I’ve been seeing a lot of fussing and fighting between my kids lately. It’s sort of making me crazy. Definitely challenging my New Year’s resolution to not become so “unglued”. (See Post-it Note #40 to see all the craziness of that resolution!) But in the midst of a fire storm of children yelling at each other a few days ago, I had a revelation. Here’s how this scenario played out at the Post house….
I have a set of older kids (pre-teens) and a set of younger kids (pre-school/K-5). Those pre-teens feel the need to tell the littles what to do….ALL. THE. TIME! So recently one of the littles does something that she shouldn’t and one of the “big kids” starts correcting her behavior. Am I standing right there? Yes I am. Despite this, the big kid is starting to yell at the little kid who starts to yell back, “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” and I’m trying to speak to the little kid, but all we hear is the big kid’s big mouth. So I turn my attention from the little to the big and literally have to shout to get that angry child’s attention so that the big mouth closes.
I say to my big kid. “Baby, I’m standing right here. I see what’s happening. I’ve got this. I know what to do and I don’t need your help to do it. I. AM. THE. MOM! Not you. You are so angry at her, but this is between me and her. And she can’t hear what I’m saying to her because you won’t be quiet. All she hears is you.” And that’s when I had my revelation…….
Listen to me Church. When someone in the body of Christ sins, what they need is the correction of our Heavenly Daddy. He’s right here. He sees what is happening. He’s got this. He knows what to do. HE. IS. THE. DAD! Not you. And that person who has sinned needs to hear what He has to say………….but can’t hear His quiet voice if all they hear is your voice judging and criticizing.
I’m not talking to any church in particular. I’m talking to THE church, the body of Christ, all of us who are Christians. We must be obedient. We must recognize sin. But the Bible says in Galations 6:1 – “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer[a] is overcome by some sin, you who are godly[b] should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”
Don’t get me wrong. Sin is serious. And we need not to condone it. Sin grieves the heart of God. But in our desire to eradicate sin, are WE sinning? Are we gentle? Are we humble? Are we attempting to restore or just bring down the hammer? No. Then friends, we are sinning and our sin may look “righteous” but it’s still sin, leaving us all in the same boat as the ones we are trying to “fix”.
Here’s something to consider: we can’t control other people. My big kids want to “make” my little kids act a certain way. They know the rules and simply can’t tolerate it when they think a little kid might get away with something. So they want to control the little kid’s behavior and “make” them do right and criticize them when they don’t. It’s not their place. My children’s obedience or disobedience toward me is my business. Can we draw a parallel there with us and God? Oh, I believe we certainly can.
How great would it be if one of my older kids said to one of my littles when they were being disobedient, “You know Mom’s not going to be pleased with that. Let me help you clean up this mess.” or “I did that once when I was your age and it didn’t end well. That’s not a great idea.” Of course, I would probably have a heart attack, but what if my older kids actually HELPED my younger kids to walk in obedience instead of just causing such a ruckus when they messed up? What would life look like in my house? Unity? Peace? Love? Harmony? Goodness, can we draw a parallel here with the church? OH, YES! Me most definitely can.
If I had a dollar for every time I said, “I’m the mom” or “You don’t have to fix this….you just need to come tell me”, I could take every reader out to dinner! Friends, it hurts to watch other believers disobey God. It does. Because we love God and want His word and standards held up. I do too. But He’s big enough to deal with disobedience. Since He created the world out of nothing, I’m inclined to believe He can deal with that person you are trying to “make behave.” How about if we do what Galations 6:1 says and help restore that person who has sinned. But do it GENTLY and leave the outcome to God. You can’t control behavior, so stop trying. Give yourself the break and leave it to God. And step out-of-the-way. Maybe they can’t hear the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit (the one that brings about true change) because all they hear is you. (I’m not saying turn a blind eye to sin. I’m saying be biblical and “restore”)
I have done some foolish things in my lifetime. I’ve hurt myself and others. And I can tell you this: it is kindness that has most often changed my heart. I have experienced Romans 2:4 first hand: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” If God’s kindness turns us from sin then would He not expect us to be kind to one another?
It grieves my heart to be on the internet or Facebook and see the body of Christ so critical to others within the body. Judging their actions, critiquing their books and writings, criticism them for the way the say or do things……….and in such a PUBLIC way for the whole world to see. There’s nothing gentle or restoring about it. It is embarrassing. We worry more about what people wear, or how their hair is cut than about their hearts. We are so concerned with policing the actions of others we pay no attention to our own angry or unkind hearts. And we think we can say whatever we want in any way we like because it is true. No wonder people won’t come to church. They think we are critical and judgmental and harsh. They think it because it’s true. It is heartbreaking. It’s immature.
Ephesians 4:15 says this about mature Christians: “we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Here’s a test: If I say it, is it helpful? Is it loving? Am I helping others to grow? No? Then maybe it doesn’t need to be said. God does look at our actions and He also looks at our heart. If your heart is in the wrong place then He is not pleased with you, even if you are sharing truth. And for goodness sakes, do NOT rebuke a brother or sister publicly on Facebook or a blog. That’s just crazy. We are family and family business should usually take place privately. (I’m sure there’s another Post-it Note to be written on this subject, but don’t let Satan use the tool of technology when it can be used for the spreading of the gospel).
We should protect and care for each other. Not criticize and cut each other down. Stop criticizing the way people serve Christ and be glad that they are serving. Stop judging someone’s actions when you don’t know the whole story. Love on those who are walking in sin. They need you to help restore them. It is heart breaking when we don’t. The most heartbreaking thing is that it’s sinful. When we are unloving towards our brothers we break the command of John 13:34-35 – “34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Lord forgive us. Lord forgive me.
Related Posts: Post-it Note #21: Destructive Criticism
All scriptures taken from Bible Gateway (The New Living Translation). Title picture from Bing Images.