“Let us learn to discern whether the words spoken against us or against God or against the truth are merely for the wind–spoken not from the soul, but from the sore. If they are for the wind, let us wait in silence and not reprove. Restoring the soul, not reproving the sore, is the aim of our love”
~ John Piper from “A Godward Life”~
I have to admit when I read this week’s quote I struggled with the wording of it. I am a pretty simple girl…….when someone speaks like this to me…..I zone out fairly quickly(my apologies to the author). I have spent some time just reading it over and over again because it’s not that I don’t want to understand it…….I have to take the time to process it and mull things over to understand it. So here is Crystal’s interpretation of the above quote after much thought and deliberation….
I have a really hard time with people who feel the need to constantly criticize me. I have been “confronted” on numerous occasions for different reasons and rarely because any of these people loved me. They just wanted me to know that I was wrong and that was that. It took me a long time to figure out that if I learnt just to let them have their say……not take things personally…..my trouble with them seemed to go away. Yes I would be hurt but I just learnt to put higher boundaries up to seperate myself from this kind of person. Every time I would respond in defensiveness or anger it would just amplify the problem and I would just brew over it allot longer than necessary, I would try to find people who would get angry with me and take my side against this person. So what I did in response to being criticized was allot worse than what this person said to me in the first place.
On the other hand I have also been told the truth “in love” about some things I was not aware of and the person who told me this was someone I have learnt to trust and value allot in my life. She told me very boldly mind you, that I needed to consider that I was wrong and needed to consider changing my behavior. Words spoken to me in love are weighed and measured because I know the person who brought them to me loves me deeply and only wants the best for me and sees me through God’s eyes. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love me, in fact it means they love me enough to tell me the truth.
Our Pastor is doing a series on “The Love Connection”, and it’s not merely about learning to love God but learning about what God expects of me as His follower in loving others. I have found this series really challenging and last Sunday in the sermon the Pastor outlined 3 approaches that we use according to our personality or how we have been brought up to addressing difficulties in others.
A. Rigid Conformity – we look at the problem our friend faces and we just say either to them “Just do what is right”……there is no room for anything other than just doing the right thing, they are just stubborn and don’t want to see the problem or are avoiding the problem, so we feel the need to “hold them accountable” without listening to them or considering any other possibilities.
B. Adaptive Conformity – we look at the problems our friends face and chalk it up to phycological or emotional damage…..there has to be an underlying reason why they are having these problems and we set out to help them fix what is wrong….or we tell them to go to a psycologist or a pastor to help them fix what is wrong. We personally avoid our friends problems and just pass them off to someone else to “deal with” instead of listening to them.
C. Connected Community (John 21:15-19 is a great example of this) – we look at our friends problems and realize that this is because they are disconnected souls. Just wandering aimlessly through life, lonely & looking for someone to help them get connected to a community. We pray with them, try to help them see where their gifts are and connect them to areas where they can use their particular gifts.
Now most of us use at least one or a combination of these methods in dealing with the people around us. Let me be clear though that there is a time and place for each method but none of these methods work without developing a friendship and trust with this person. More often then not we pass off people for someone else to deal with rather than stepping up and helping them to see the truth in their lives and connecting them where they would feel fulfilled or we just walk away from them because “they are just stubborn and are not obeying God” so we wash our hands of them. Being a real friend means that we are willing to tell that person the truth, even if painful, walking with them through their difficulties and not abandoning them in their time of need. It’s not the knee jerk reaction that can hurt because we are angry and just want to hurt that person in return for their careless words or actions. This brings Phillipians 2:1-4(msg) to my mind
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
So if we love people the way God wants us to love them,……we will be actively involved in helping them become all that God wants them to be, by loving them, by telling them the truth, by connecting them to a community of believers that can help them as well, not criticizing them and tearing them down but praying for them and building them up. It’s not easy being this kind of friend, it’s much easier to let someone else deal with them…..and please keep in mind you may have to sever ties with a friend for a time because they refuse to change their behavior, whether self destructive or disobedient, but you can never stop praying for them……….
For more on this quote from another person’s perspective please visit Finding Joy in the Morning who is hosting In other words this week.