When It’s Our Time To Speak

The customer service line at the big-box hardware store had slowed to a halt that afternoon as the lone attendant awaited a price-check. As seconds amassed into minutes, the eyes bearing down upon her increased both in number and in intensity, and then the grumbling began. “Can you believe this?!?” a man fumed to my wife. Now, Peggy is among the more tactful people on the planet, and so she replied, “Yes, I know. Can you image how frustrating it must be for her right now, all alone and with no one to help her?” There was a pause. “I never thought of it that way,” the man said, more softly now, more introspectively. After another pause, he asked Peggy, “What do you do for a living?”

The world in which we live and breathe is far from perfect; indeed, we all contribute to its imperfection. Intentionally or not, we aggravate others and they irritate us; moreover, we sometimes find ourselves having to speak to others about their wrongdoings, not in judgment or self-righteousness, but because we care. Addressing someone’s moral shortcoming, however, is dicey at best, and at worst downright treacherous. So, what do we do? Perhaps Peggy should be the one writing this post, but I have observed this: it helps to accompany someone to a place where we can humbly behold together the good and right ways of God. The man waiting in line, for instance, was kindly shown a perspective from which a newfound compassion for another eclipsed momentary inconvenience for himself. Nothing more needed to be said in the moment, for the moment had said enough.

King David had his own big-box store encounter: despite all his power and wealth, he took from a common soldier the one thing that mattered most to him—his wife. This time it was Nathan standing with him in line, arousing in David a godly passion for honor and justice before confronting him with his own acts of contempt for them. Convicted in the contrast, David confessed his sin, the first step toward forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.

Be it in a palace or a hardware store, whether we are a prophet or an income tax preparer, there will be times when we are called to speak up. When those times come, may we be found faithful in the moment—carefully and prayerfully speaking truth in love.

Father, send me your Spirit of wisdom and discernment today that I might proceed lovingly when I must speak and refrain humbly when I must be silent. Strengthen me to trust you in all things. In the name of Christ and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.

Click here to see how tactfully Nathan confronted David in 2 Samuel 12:1-12.
Click here to read Psalm 51, David’s response to God after hearing Nathan’s message.

After God’s Own Heart

It’s not that he never messed up. He did. He messed up plenty, just like the rest of us. So, I always wondered why God considered David—this shepherd, musician, king—to be “a man after my own heart.”1 What did He see in David—this adulterer, deceiver, murderer—that made him emerge so favorably from all the other wrongdoers in the world?

It’s not that this king of Israel’s “golden age” was inherently better than anyone else; his self-assessment mirrors our own, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”2 Knowing this sad state of the soul, David staked his life entirely on the absolute love and mercy of God. When his predecessor Saul faltered in faith, he distanced himself from God and wrapped himself in a thick coat of excuses. Not so, David! Quite to the contrary, when David messed up, he turned to the only place he could fine help, God’s own heart—running not away from Him in fear, but to Him in faith; spurning not God’s character with doubt, but honoring His goodness through trust; and not shutting out his God in shame, but opening himself completely before the only One who could remove it.

It’s not that God’s favor rested only upon David. Like him, we have every confidence in God because of His own unwavering faithfulness. To the church, the apostle Paul writes, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”3

This is the reality in which we who are in Christ now gladly live. Though we sin, Christ lives in us as our holiness4, in fact, through Christ, God has taken the initiative to draw us near to Himself.5 So, we, too, live confidently before God, forgiven, reconciled to Him, and free from accusation—after God’s own heart, we might say, just like David.

Father, thank you for your patience with me and your faithfulness to me. Help me to accept in faith your great love for me, and free me to live before you and others in confidence, hope, and joy. May this life bring you glory. In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is holiness.

1 Acts 13:2
2 Psalm 51:
3 Colossians 1:21-23
4 1 Corinthians 1:30
5 Ephesians 2:13

1-800-GET HELP

It was within a two-week span several years ago that two of my managers stopped into my office separately from each other, both with the same concern. “You’re trying to do too much, and you need to offload some of it to the team,” one said. “Our people want to do things for you,” said the other, “You need to let them.” It was a humbling moment for this one who, by nature, has a hard time asking for help or accepting generosity, and it was a priceless turning point in my understanding of team.

Superman scenarios are not new; they play out every day in scale both grand and small. Even the legendary leader, Moses, succumbed to the deceptive allure of “I’d rather do it myself.” After observing him trying to resolve all the people’s disputes one day, his father-in-law, Jethro, asked, “Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” He went on to offer advice—be available for the difficult cases, but get help for all the others. “That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you … You will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied” (Exodus 18:22, 23). “Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves” (Exodus 18:24-26).

Who knows why we take much more upon ourselves than we need to? Maybe we think no one can (or will) do it any better than we can. Perhaps we think ourselves unworthy of someone else’s help, or we fear rejection. Is there a little martyrdom inside, or passive aggression? Who knows why? Candidly, I’m not sure the “why” is all that important. I think what is important is that we grow beyond the pride of independence and mature into the humility of interdependence. Simply put, people need people; we need each other.

When those in our lives respond to our call for help, we breathe in their much-needed relief, yet the beauty of community doesn’t stop there. For when people give of themselves for us, they, in turn, experience a sense of meaning—a God-given grace—the satisfaction that only comes from helping someone in need. Us.

Father, I need people much more than I admit. Transform me by your Spirit, that I would lay aside the pride and fear that isolate me from those you would send to me in my time of need. Inspire me, also, to notice and to respond joyfully to those who need my help. This is your wonderful way. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is humility.