Uncomfortable, Yet True
Never before in my life have I understood the importance of the variety of the members of the body of Christ until now. I have struggled with appreciating other believers and their differences. I have not been living by the truth that God created each one of us uniquely and is working in our lives in a special way. In other words, if I noticed someone who was quite different than I am, I viewed them negatively, not understanding why they couldn’t just be more like me. 😲 Sad but true. As a result, I have been missing out on so many growth opportunities because I have not recognized the differences in others as tools to perfect and sharpen me. I have been trying to get people to be conformed to my image rather than possessing the goal that all believer’s be conformed to His image. It’s quite selfish really. So what He’s showing me is that if I opened my eyes and saw the differences in other people as something to refine me rather than threaten me, I might just grow spiritually. I must welcome trials and tribulations as friends and allow them to perfect my character (definition of the character quality of patience).
God has graciously been giving me a strong desire for wisdom and understanding lately. As a result, I have been spending quite some time in the book of Proverbs. I’m finally beginning to understand the vitality of receiving instruction and wisdom, instead of resisting and running from reproof and correction. I believe this is a pit that many Christians fall in to. Receiving teaching means admitting I don’t know everything 😮.
I read Proverbs 5 this morning and saw some things I never have before. The chapter begins with a father pleading for his child to “…give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge.” And then he explains why this is so important: “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.” So this father is begging his son to heed his instruction so he doesn’t fall prey to immorality. BUT, what I never saw before is that the end result of ignoring instruction is bitter, whether it’s adultery or simply living in foolishness without wisdom. No matter what you do, life without wisdom is bitter. The lips of an adulteress drip honey (life seems to be going well without listening to uncomfortable corrections) but in the end it is bitter and sharper than a sword!
As I read Proverbs 5, I personalized it, seeing the dangers of rejecting wise counsel in my own life. It may look different than the temptations that this son was facing, but the end result is bitter nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live with regret and groan at my final end like the son in this chapter who ends up saying, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!” The last verse of the chapter is very telling, “He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.” I don’t want that to be me. I want to welcome irritations, annoyances, and differences in other people as things that can conform me to the image of Christ! As long as I keep rejecting them, I won’t appreciate each member of the body of Christ.
The following verses sum up what God is teaching me in all this. I think Paul expresses it much better than I could. :)
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor…” 1 Corinthians 12:14-23
Therefore, I cannot say to any believer because of our differences, “I have no need of you”. That’s complete foolishness. Rather I should allow the unique and godly qualities of any person to sharpen me and mold me into the image of Christ. This is wisdom.
Thank you all for your prayers! They are much needed and much appreciated!
With lots of love,