Sunday, August 30, 2015

Unfaithful Servant: Salt and Light and Logs and Motes

But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few." Luke 12: 45-48 NASB

We began our study of the unfaithful servant yesterday. If you missed it, I hope you'll follow the link (it opens in a new tab) and read it.

I expected to write today about the slave who knew his master's will and didn't do it. In a way, that's exactly what I'm writing about. In a way, I'm writing about the unfaithful servant who beats the other people. I hesitate, because I'm as guilty as anyone else of seeing motes in others' eyes while ignoring the log in my own, but this is a subject that has bothered me for months. It's so loud in my head that it must be written. 

We are talking today about the WORDS we choose to use. 

My life is chock-full of words because my days are spent writing and editing, correcting the wrong words and making them right. I was focused on words long before I started writing full-time, though. In my growing up years, my mother must have told me a thousand times, "You don't have to say everything that comes into your mind." (Well, maybe not those exact words, but that's what she meant.) I understand the importance of words and the difficulty with choosing good ones.

It has taken me a lifetime to get a filter on my mouth, and I'm the first one to say I'm not perfect with it, despite my effort. With that said, here we go.

Jesus called me (us) to be salt and light. He did not call me to rub a handful of salt into a wound.

I am called to be the amount of saltiness that adds flavor to food, not the amount that makes it impossible to swallow.  If my words spew forth and are filled with venom (in the name of "truth"), I am not adding flavor to the world around me. I am making my faith impossible to swallow.

I am to be light, but the warm light of a lamp that draws people in the darkness to Christ. I am not called to be a spotlight boring into the eyes of the unbeliever to the point that they are blinded by the glare. I am called to be a lamp, not a laser. 

I recently drove to a meeting late in the evening. When I rounded a curve, the sun was shining directly into my eyes. It was so bright that I was temporarily blinded and had to stop lest I run into a fence that was directly ahead of me. Progress toward the goal was completely halted by the glare. It didn't draw me to my destination. It prevented me from moving toward it.

As a disciple of Christ, I am called to obey the Word of God and to live righteously. I am called to share the Good News of a risen Savior with those who don't know Him. Christ died for me while I was a sinner, and He died for those who are also still sinners (which I am, t00).

How can people obey Christ if they do not know Him? Why would I expect the world to obey Him? Yes, Jonah preached a hard word to Nineveh and the people repented. His very effective prophetic proclamation was made only after a radical life-changing encounter with the Most High God had left him visibly changed. 

 If I want to be a modern-day Jonah to the world around me, I need to begin by having a life-altering encounter with God that leaves me so changed that all can see it.  I also need to remember the kind of message Jonah gave. He didn't spew venom. Not once did he say, "Your sin makes me sick." Jonah simply stated the truth. "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown."

When I attack the world for acting like the world, but do not address the sin in my own life, in my own church, I appear not only hypocritical (which I am) but also foolish.
Can't I see the log in my own eye? 

Every mote looks like a log when it's in someone else's eye. Seeing a mote in someone else's eye does not mean I am without a log or two in my own eye.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am dedicated to truth, but I need to understand and live with all the truth. 

It is past time for the body of Christ to allow our Lord to clean the sin out of our own lives, out of our own churches. 

It is past time to let go of self-righteousness and see that we, like the world, are sinners in need of a redeeming, cleansing, forgiving Savior.

When I say "we", I include myself in that "we". Christ died for me while I was a sinner. He loves me even though I am still a sinner. His Spirit convicts me, presses me when I persist in sin, and draws me back to my Lord when I stray. 

For today, let's ask God to create in us clean hearts and clean mouths, to remove the venom and give us words that honor Him. (Yes, I'm praying that same thing.) Let's pray that the words of our mouths would be acceptable in His sight. 

Let's be the lamp, the flavor-enhancer He's called us to be, demonstrating Christ to the world in a way that is both filled with truth and also irresistible. 
Our Father, forgive us for "log disease". Help us to see ourselves, our hearts, our words as You see them. Infuse us with the light of Your love and help us to shine in such a way that those who live in darkness are drawn to the light. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Tomorrow's topic is Christ and the constitution. I'm dreading it.

#disciple #JesusChrist #actlikewebelive #getthelogout