July 7, 2014.
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
(I Corinthians 3:1-4)
It is so easy for me to look out at other people and point out their flaws and what they need to improve on, or even smirk at their immaturity. I start listing all my accomplishments, all the things that I do “right” and say, “Ha, just look at what I have done and then tell me you’re more mature than I am.” It’s a good feeling, until I realize that it completely destroys my whole basis of my alleged maturity. I think most of us, even adults, have a lot of growing up to do. We can blame it on culture or environment, but regardless of what makes us the way we are, it does not change the fact that even the Christians considered most mature can fall into the trap of pride, jealously and strife without even realizing. It may be time we take a step back and examine ourselves to see if we really are the Christian we claim to be. This analysis may be disappointing.
So, you’ve read through the entire bible? Good. You have verses that you can quote on command? Great. You can tell me about the full history of the Jewish nation before Christ? Wonderful. But are you living the life that Christ has called you to live? Are you exemplifying the love that He had for people, the mission He had to save lost souls, the compassion He had on both sinners and saints? See, we can memorize Scripture and history all day, but if we aren’t applying what we know, of what use is it?
I was raised on a strong biblical foundation. I have grown to absolutely love Scripture. I can quote many verses and tell you where to find some story or teaching. I can relate biblical concepts to one another without opening the bible. I can even pick out the styles of writing the different prophets had with fairly good accuracy. I don’t say any of this to boast, nor do I regret learning all of this. I say this to show that even with all this knowledge, I still do not exemplify the picture of a mature Christian many times. I look back on these accomplishments and say “Look at me. Just try and go against me. See what will happen.” Pride. Motivated by jealousy because I want to be viewed as other leaders are viewed. This is spiritual immaturity.
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will havetreasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Notice the way Jesus interacts with a man who is asking him a religious question. The first thing Jesus says is “Why do you call me good? No on is good except for God alone.” I am honestly perplexed at the humility that Jesus shows here. Jesus was God on earth, one with the Father. But He doesn’t call on that here? The rich young ruler was asking the right questions to the one person on earth that had the complete, true, without a doubt answer. But Jesus begins with humility. Then he teaches, from Scripture. When the man replies “Got it! What now?” (yes, I’m paraphrasing), Jesus realizes he is going to give him a hard thing to do, one that will cause him to have to change his lifestyle. Before He gives him the teaching, Mark records “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” I know many times when I give a rebuke, I don’t always look at the other person with compassion, considering the cost of what the truth will bring to their lives. Sometimes I come across as more of “this is right, you’re wrong, have some Scripture and just change.” That is not the way Jesus taught the people. He may have done this to some extent, though admittedly probably not to the extent we do today, for the religious leaders who should have had things right and even when he was being tempted by the devil, but when he was looking at a lost soul, he always had compassion. (Yes, I believe He had compassion at all times, I’m just pointing out the different teaching styles for different people.) Do we do that today? Or are we so into being right that we forget about the soul to whom we are speaking?
It’s time for us to grow up. It’s time for us to realize that we are but mere human beings and not the complete authority on the mind of God. It’s time for us to let the bible do the teaching and our opinions to not get in the way of love.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
(I Corinthians 13:4-8a)
I am in a discussion group on Facebook, and someone posted something along these lines that really provoked my thoughts:
We are to speak the truth in love. When we speak the truth, are we patient? Are we kind? When we teach, do we do it from envy or boasting? Are we arrogant when we teach? Are we rude? Do we insist on our own way? Do we get irritable? Do we resent the people we teach? We are to speak the truth in love. Is that what we do?
That cuts straight to the heart for me. I can say I do all things out of love all I want, but until I show the biblical definition of love, I am but a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Truth needs to be taught, always. But the teacher always needs to have love behind it. Think and pray on these things.
Suggested Daily Reading: Mark 10, John 8, I Corinthians 3, 13.
The Lord be your guide.