I have this lady that I see twice a week that can be irritating outside of the church. You probably have people in your life that irritates you or have had someone that has irritated you. I have to remember who this person is. She is elderly, lives alone, and is a strong woman and opinionated. She had at one time ran a very successful business. She is knowledgeable in numbers and figures. When I need to figure something out that deals with numbers or figures I get her advice. She loves to talk. I believe it’s because she lives alone. We often hear the same stories over and over, but then my dad did the same thing when he got older. I really like this woman even though she can be irritating at times.
Several months back and it might even be longer; I started taking a mentoring program with a friend of mine. In the study we are doing we have the option of memorizing scripture. I took it on myself to do that, but as time went by I got busy and didn’t keep up with it. My mentoring session is almost over with, I am done with some Bible Studies I was taking and I have some time on my hands so I started going over those scriptures again.
One day recently I randomly (or God randomly) picked the scripture I would relearn. The scripture for the day was, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. “Ephesians 4:32. It just happened the day I started this scripture was the day I was to spend with this lady. She just happened to be in one of her moods and I was glad God gave me this as a reminder of how I was to be toward this woman. I repeated that scripture several times during the day.
Recently in Sunday School Class we were talking about false prophets and those who can lead you astray. 2 Peter 2:1-2 says, “But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.” We all know people who can speak eloquently, but when you get down and study their message or their advice it’s not worth much.
As I was thinking about the scripture above I began to think about myself. First, I was thinking about memorizing scripture. Why do I want to memorize scripture? Well, I tried to tell myself so when I come across people like my friend I would have scripture to fall back on. Ok, but do you mean those words or are you just saying them to make yourself feel good? Ouch! Am I really kind and compassionate to this lady? Do I really forgive her when she unintentionally irritates me? If I was compassionate I would understand she is a widow and is lonely. She needs someone to talk to. My poor husband; when my children were younger and I didn’t work I loved him coming home from work. I needed to hear the conversation of an adult. I needed to hear something other than nursery rhythms and conversations from Sesame Street. So he would come home and guess who did most of the talking? It wasn’t because I had anything earth shattering to say, it was because I was lonely; even though I was around my daughters all day I was lonely for adult company. So I should be compassionate and understand her needs shouldn’t I?
The next thing that came to my mind was the phrase lying religious teachers. I consider myself a teacher somewhat. I may not teach a class, but I do give talks to various groups and write these articles. If I take scripture and memorize them for my own good and not the good of others who am I fooling? If I memorize scripture and not live by them am I any different from the lying religious teachers talked about in this scripture? God has certainly convicted me. It is good to memorize scripture, but we have to be aware of being false Christians. Going to church, saying the right words, and praying like the Pharisees in Jesus time does not make us children of God. What makes us children of God is taking those scriptures we hear on Sunday to heart, praying as if we were talking to our best friend, not just talking to Him, but have a relationship with Him and living the way God wants us to live makes us children of God. If it’s important enough for me to memorize scripture then it should be just as important for me to live by them. We who write, teach or preach have to be cautious of the way we live. We cannot talk or preach or write one way and then live another. Same thing goes if you proclaim to be a Child of God. If you go about bragging about going to church, and doing this and this, but your life don’t show it how then will you be able to bring others to Christ?
Recently, it hit me. I have a ministry. Whether I asked for it or not I have a ministry. I have been made more aware of how I treat others and what I say and how I live will affect my ministry and how others see me. How I respond when I am attacked in a meeting, in a Bible Study or in life will affect how others see Christ in me. That is a big responsibility I can’t keep, but with God as my Guide, teacher and living in me I can do it. I know I will fail and I will have to go back and take responsibility for my actions, but I hope I have to do it less and less as I lean more and more on Him.
Learning scripture is great; living scripture is even better. Now I will be more careful when I spout off scripture. I will be more aware of the words in scripture and I will think about whether I really mean it or I am just saying it to look good.
False teaching; not something I want to be a part of. How about you? If you want to know what happens to false teachers just read 2 Peter 2. It’s not a pretty picture. Together let’s live the scriptures out in our daily lives as we respond to the world around us.
Dear God: Make me more aware of living out the scriptures instead of just spouting them off. Make those words alive in me. If I choose to share scripture with someone let it be because I live it and believe in it not because I want to look good. Thanks for stepping on my toes and teaching me. Guide me and direct my paths and may I live out a life where others can see Christ in me. Amen