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Pointers along the way #689

When exhortations bounce off

- Jacob Ninan

We are all imperfect. We know how it affects us when other people hurt us because of their imperfections. But we may not be aware to the same level when our imperfections hurt others! But they do! When that happens we usually get some feedback -- silence, outburst, accusation, gossip or a gentle suggestion. How is our response? If it is always to defend or justify ourselves we are probably only spiritual babies. But even those who have grown up in Christ have the tendency now and then to block feedback from others. This is not healthy at all, and it is something we need to work on.

"Iron sharpens iron" (Pr.27:17). One of the ways by which God helps us to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus is through our interaction with other people. Many such times, when our sinful nature slips out and we get a feedback (gentle or attacking), it is God pointing out to us where we need to change. He is not condemning us but showing us the next lesson in our syllabus. But since we have not had this lesson before, we are unable to see immediately that it applies to us! We come out with all kinds of measures to escape having to admit we did anything wrong. What happens is that this 'exhortation' bounces off from us, and gets wasted.

It is natural that we think we are not like what the others are saying about us because we have not looked at that area of our life -- our thoughts, motives, attitudes and behaviour -- from this point of view earlier. We may even remember some incident in our life where we have done differently from what the others are implying about us, and that confirms our assumption that we are innocent or the others have misunderstood, etc.

But the fact remains that at our particular stage of our development we are ignorant (and therefore blind) about so many wrong and sinful things that we are still doing. It is possible that others can see some of them clearly, because they affect them, even though we cannot see them. If we recognise this as a fact, instead of denying that we have done anything wrong, we can examine them honestly to see if what the others are saying is right, or if there is at least some truth in what they are saying. If we can't still see anything wrong, it is good to ask the Lord to show us if there was anything wrong. If we finally get convicted about our wrong, we can humbly admit our wrong before God and others and set things right. Then we would have taken one more step towards becoming like Jesus.

What will happen if we don't take these steps but are still waiting for God to change us? In Mt.25:31-46 there is a parable of Jesus about two groups of people both of whom did not recognise that what they did to others was as if they were doing it to Him! In our context can we see that God is trying to transform us but we can't see His hand there because we are only looking at other people? Perhaps we have missed it so far, but can't we begin to learn this new lesson now and start working on it?


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