Friday, May 27, 2011
A Work In Progress
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." Romans 12:3, NKJV
Don’t you just love working with people? We’re all so different and on top of that we’re all works in progress. I put myself in that category as well…a work in progress…so as I share this with you today, I pray that it doesn’t come across judgmental or critical, but that it will actually help of few of us.
I’ve come across several situations in my work as a pastor in dealing with some people who can best be described as “thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think.” Now don’t get me wrong, they are good people, but they are just not seeing themselves the way they should. I’ve tried to put my finger on it and I think it can best be described as the “teenager syndrome.” Do you remember those years, when you thought you really knew the score on life? The years when you thought mom and dad were just so out of touch with life, were complete idiots and totally clueless, if only your parents could be as smart as you? But then it happened – you grew up – and somehow they got smarter.
Did you know that if we’re not careful the same thing could happen to us spiritually? According to 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NKJV) when we gain a little knowledge it can sometimes puff us up. Ever seen a blowfish? They are the fish that puff themselves up so it looks like they are much bigger than they really are. Well, sometimes we can do the same thing and think that we’re bigger, smarter, or even more spiritually mature than we really are. The danger is that we stop listening to the very people that God has placed in our lives to teach us, and help guide us through life.
It’s unfortunate, but as a pastor I’ve seen this very thing shipwreck people’s faith. Imagine what would happen if you made a decision at home that your teenager didn’t like, if there was a conflict or they didn’t get to do what they wanted, and their response was, “Mom and Dad, I believe the Lord is moving us on…my season here is up.” As parents we’d send them to their room and tell them not to come out until they changed their attitude. But that’s not what us loving pastors do. Oh no, we just love on them and let them go. I sometimes wonder if that’s really the right thing to do.
So what can we do to avoid the spiritual “teenager syndrome”?
First, be honest enough to admit that it exists. Just know that it takes decades to grow up in the Lord, not months, or even a few years. There’s an old saying that to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Second, stay little in your own eyes. That’s the warning that the prophet Samuel gave Saul when he took matters into his own hands in 1 Samuel 15:17 (NKJV),
“So Samuel said, ‘When you were little in your own eyes,were you not head of the tribes of Israel?And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel?’”
There’s no doubt that God was able to anoint Saul to be king because he was little in his own eyes, but then he got in trouble when he stopped listening to Samuel and decided to take things into his own hands.
Isn’t it really just an issue of spiritual pride? That’s why God reminds us of this in 1 Peter 5:5-6 (NKJV),
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
Would you agree that all of this takes faith? Because sometimes we just don’t want to humble ourselves. Sometimes we just don’t want to listen to anybody but us, our own thoughts and ideas. But that’s not God’s way. So, let’s stay little in our own eyes, stay humble and teachable and trust God to keep working on us, because in the end, we’re all a work in progress.