Just yesterday, I was at church and the son of one of my friends waved at me. He’s only 8 or 9 years old, and I’ve been saying hello to him with little more than polite ‘hellos’ in return. But today, by some tiny miracle, as I walked up, his hand was fully extended in the air and waving at me. This was so unexpected, and not in line with literally any other encounter we’ve ever had, that I looked behind me to see who he was really waving at. When realizing there was nobody behind me, I laughed with embarrassment and gave him a big high five!
Usually this scenario is reversed. We see someone waving at us, and then sheepishly realize it was actually intended for the person behind us. I’m not sure which is worse. But I have realized that many moments of studying scripture, listening to teachings, or experiencing correction from trusted friends, I tend to assume those more challenging words are not for me, it’s probably for someone else.
In the gospel of Matthew in chapter 21, Jesus shares two parables. We read in Matthew 21:45-46 “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew He was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.” When they finally recognized that the hard teaching was being directed towards them, they wanted to respond with aggression.
This is often the pattern. First, there’s denial that I might be wrong. I do not often experience the sense of needing transformation quickly. When I read scripture, I’m always David, never the other soldiers who were afraid of Goliath. I am always the good Samaritan, never those who walked around the hurting man. I am always one of the disciples and never the ones who shouted “crucify Him.” But when I humble myself, and sometimes, listen again, I can recognize parts of myself that are being identified as less than holy.
There are times when I am too afraid of the giants in my life to honor the Lord publicly, too busy to tend to those in need, and too swept up by the shouts of everyone else around me to recognize what God is actually doing in that moment. When I am most honest with myself, I realize that the teachings warning the Pharisees are often the lessons this church girl needs to hear the most. When I allow the Holy Spirit to work out that passage, I have to say to myself that maybe that’s about me.
The second portion of the pattern tends to be aggression. This is not always true when it’s the Holy Spirit revealing my shortcomings in the quiet of my prayer time. But, it is for sure the preferred response when I am corrected by other people! When God uses leaders, pastors and friends to personally give me a word of correction, I want to first deny and then defend. I always think, ‘I don’t struggle there’ or ‘when did I ever do that?’
I am witnessing this happening a lot lately. Many people are refusing to accept any sort of question about their behavior, their posted words, or their spoken words. There is an idea of freedom and general correctness about our opinions that, for some reason, is giving us liberties to do or say what we please and how we please, and never accept responsibility or correction for those words or actions. I am burdened by this, church family. I believe a season of humility is needed. When we can honestly look at ourselves and ask, ‘can I grow here?’; ‘is that correction for me?’
I want to let the Lord work in my heart. I know that the assumption of correctness or the presence of pride might get in the way of His guidance. Lord, help us hear the words of our brothers and sisters, the teachings in your Holy Scriptures, and see ourselves accurately. Help us to know when You are truly waving us down to change, and not assume that’s for the person behind us. Help us to never assume position, or length of time being a Christian, will keep us out of the hot seat of growth. Help us to humbly say, ‘maybe that word is about me.’ Amen!
Candace Cortez is Executive Pastor at Koinonia Church. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 559-469-7775.
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