Sorry for missing Thursday’s and Friday’s posts and for being so late today. As I mentioned in last Wednesday’s post, I was under the weather a good bit last week. Additionally, I’m having some trouble with my internet at home and couldn’t get to this page to update it. I’m working on that. I can access the page from my office, so I’ll try to stay on top of this week’s posts.
Also, let me remind you that there are still a few more days (through August 26) in which you can be of some big help to me and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I’m still a good ways from my bail goal and would really appreciate your help. Just check out the website and make a donation (no matter how large or small) and you’ll be a big help to someone who is suffering with Muscular Dystrophy. Thanks.
I Am Not Your God and I Need to Quit Acting Like It
Over at Give Attention to Reading last week, we were reading through Romans. Romans 14:4 caught one reader’s eye. I just have to share what talking about this point brought to my attention about our spiritual lives.
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the lord is able to make him stand.”
Please don’t misunderstand anything I’m going to say here. I fully recognize God calls us to make judgments, but to do so with a righteous judgment (cf. John 7:24). I also know this passage is not condemning congregational discipline when prompted properly (cf. Matthew 18:15-20; I Corinthians 5:1-13). However, Paul means something when he reminds us that we are not anyone’s master.
I can’t help but think about my own children. I don’t know how many times a day I have to remind one of them, “Hey, you are not the parent.” Of course, Tessa suffers badly from oldest child syndrome and I have to remind her repeatedly, “Tessa, you are not Ethan and Ryan’s mom.” She may claim she is just trying to help. She may claim she is just joking. She may claim she is just trying to uphold our rules. But in those instances, it is all too plain to see her taking authority to herself that simply isn’t hers. Usually, we are right there to say, “You aren’t the parent.”
Along with Romans 14:4, that caused me to stop in my tracks and wonder. How many times a day as I speak to others is God up in heaven, shaking His head saying, “Edwin, you are not their God.” Certainly, I should be there to help others. Certainly when I see someone turning from God’s path, I need to come up alongside them and encourage them in the right way. However, I am not their God. I have to make sure I’m coming alongside as a fellow brother, traveler, partner. I should come along as a concerned friend. Too often I come along as the authority trying to wield some kind of punitive right over them. Too easily I lift myself up as if I am above them. God simply says, “Edwin, stop acting like that. You are not their God.”
Additionally, I need to remember that God has granted leeway in many cases. I do not get to act like my way is equivalent to God’s. This may be something as simple as how we dress for the church’s assembly. I personally like to dress up as a way to show respect for what we are doing. That doesn’t mean I get to make a rule for everyone else and demand they show respect my way or view them as not quite as spiritual as me. On the other hand, others may prefer to dress more casually for any number of reasons. They don’t get to look down on me as old-fashioned or traditionalistic and make up a rule that I have to dress down to be really spiritual like them. As I am making judgments about how to live my life where God has provided principles but not drawn exact lines, I have to take some real care about acting like I’m God. I’m not (aren’t you thankful?).
I think if we can all remember that we are not the master, we are not God, relationships in Christ’s body would probably all be just a bit smoother. If we can remember that we are just fellow servants with one another, brothers and sisters, and approach each other with that attitude, even great differences might be resolved better.
The next time you are approaching someone else with God’s word, take a moment to remind yourself, “I’m not their God.” I bet it helps.