I had an interesting exchange with a blog reader about my enjoying the mess? post of two days ago. She asked this: “Have you considered that maybe this person is just trying to embrace one of their weaknesses or their personality flaws, for the sake of showing how God might be glorified through it? And perhaps they aren’t wording it very well?”
This is something totally different from what I was addressing on Saturday. None of us are born again into full understanding or into perfection. After salvation, we begin a walk of faith that includes God’s gentle pruning, the revealing of truth into our lives. What is revealed is different for each one of us because we are each individuals.
I’ve often thought that if we saw ourselves as we truly are in our deepest, darkest, secret corners of our hearts, we would drop dead from the shock and horror. God in His wisdom shows us our faults and flaws and sins one or two at a time, letting us listen to Him and letting Him prune and gently transform us. Past experiences can wound us deeply, and we have to trust God to heal us of those wounds in His time. Being open and honest about those wounds can certainly be part of the healing process.
So what is an example of what I meant in my previous post? Well, I mentioned how I struggle with being sharp-spoken with the people I live with. I can be as patient as the day is long with total strangers. But at home with family members, I get frustrated or tired or whatever, and the next thing I know I’m snapping at the people I love. I know I shouldn’t. I regret it deeply. I’m ashamed of my lack of control. I frequently pray for God to help me with this bad habit. I am not proud of it nor am I pretending to be different than I am. But I am attempting to change the behavior, with God’s help. (I’m a lot better than I used to be, praise God! So the prayers are being answered.)
James 3:1-12 has a lot to say about controlling the tongue. It says that we shouldn’t bless God with it and curse men with it at the same time. As a believer, I am to pursue the control of my speech. No one can read the Scriptures and not understand this. And no one can read them and not know that we are told to love other Christians. But what if I stated to you that I’m going to talk the way I want to talk because it’s just who I am and it’s my right of free speech? What if I said, “I love God but I hate all Christians who don’t agree with me about [insert social issue of your choice], and that’s just the way I am. I don’t care that the Bible says I should love other Christians. Not if they disagree with me.”?
Ah, maybe that’s the best example of all of what I called “believers reveling in their messiness.” Making it about “us” instead of about “Jesus.” Demanding our rights to be who we are rather than yearning to be like Jesus.
Well, dear readers, it would have been much easier in the example department if I could just send you to particular articles that were the kick-start for my post and say, “See what you think.” But I won’t do that. That’s because the person is my brother/sister in Christ. To name him/her would simply be, in my opinion, to gossip, to point a finger and say, “He/she is wrong.” That isn’t what I want to do. I want my posts to cause me and those who read my blog to look at ourselves and see if we need to change.
We will each continue to be imperfect and messy. We will each continue to struggle as long as we are on this earth with a variety of sins and personality flaws. By our transparency about what we used to be and how God helped us change and about what issues/sins/flaws we currently struggle with and how we are asking God to change us, we can be a conduit of help to others. God has shed His grace upon us, not so we can simply continue as we are but so we can take hold of that grace and be transformed by it, one day at a time. We owe mercy and grace to other believers as they seek to know God and do His will. We can extend grace (to others and to ourselves) while still speaking the truth. It isn’t an either/or thing. God tells us the truth about who we are and what is required of us, but He still pours out His grace over us at the same time.
I have labored too long over this post, and now it’s time I labored over my novel, wherein my characters have a host of problems of their own, including one who must come to understand the true meaning of grace.
In the grip of His grace,