It’s good to have days now and then when we feel thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. Someone puts their finger smack-dab on an aspect (or several) of your behavior that needs to be changed, therefore an aspect of your heart, and suddenly you are left with an overwhelming sense of the weakness of your character. Sometimes you’ve been told before, especially by family, but it takes the friends in your life to finally bring it home. This was me three times this week. Thank God for family, and for those friends.
But then I start to badger myself with the “why haven’t I learned this lesson before?” questions, and feel as though I must be horribly thick to STILL need such admonishment. That’s what our fallen nature does: clouds our ability to recognize sin in the first place and then buries us in guilt when we do. Still, instead of slipping down that slope in the opposite direction of spiritual growth, I beg the Lord to help me be inspired by such conversations to make those changes from the heart and practice better habits. God put these people in my life, whether family or friends, and it is He who allows them to observe and speak. I want to be open to truth, whoever speaks it. When family tells me something I need to hear, it’s easy to think “well that’s true at home, but family notices everything negative and it’s probably not so bad around other people.” Sadly we’re all more comfortable sinning against our families than others. But that is such foolish thinking. Then “other people” speak up too, and it drives home the point more painfully. Our behavior really does affect them, and now character flaws that could have been dealt with long before have difficult consequences.
A lesson learned: don’t just listen to advice from the people you want to listen to. If you are blessed with godly family, listen to them. Be proactive about taking admonition with humility, and with God’s help make the changes. Be teachable. Have a soft heart, that of flesh and not of stone, given by our Father through Christ. Don’t be stubborn. Remember how often God called Israel “a stubborn and stiff-necked people”? Don’t be that person. He is endlessly patient, yes. But the sooner we humble ourselves the better. God is “opposed to the proud”. ‘Opposed’ meaning “to line up in battle against”. Don’t be the fool whose pride puts you in that fearful position. Because He is ready every moment to forgive, strengthen, and pull you up off the floor. His strength is perfected in our weakness.
I am so grateful for my family (all three of you) =] and for the friends God has provided. Thankful that they notice problematic patterns in my life and want to help me change them. Thank you all for speaking with grace and kindness. May God bless you for it, and may we grow from now on to better personal holiness and stronger relationships.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and how unutterably sweet is their forgiveness.