Friday, April 26, 2013

Instructing with Gentleness, Pt. 4

Is your mindset appropriate regarding the source of this message you have to deliver?

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 About food offered to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

There is a significant chance for pride to well up in you when you seek to instruct someone else. The issue that Paul was addressing in 1 Corinthians 8 was about believers eating food offered to idols. Alistair Begg points out in a teaching on this passage that charring some of the meat of every meal as an offering to their gods was a common practice for unbelieving Corinthians, and young believers, having recently been called out of this idol worship, were concerned that eating such meat would somehow defile them or be a sin against God. The more mature believers recognized that such an idea was not true, and in their knowledge of this truth, they apparently exercised their freedom in such a way that caused their less mature brethren to stumble. Their knowledge did not build others up in love; it puffed themselves up in conceit.

It is easy to adopt an attitude of arrogance and superiority when you have knowledge that has not been revealed to someone else, as if this bit of insight you have to share somehow came about by your own great intellectual power. It is of utmost importance to recognize the truth that Paul reveals just 6 chapters earlier in the same letter: whatever we understand about God and His Word has been revealed to us by the Spirit, and whenever we speak that understanding to others in such a way that they receive new insight, it is only by the Spirit that this can happen at all.

Are you offended when someone doesn't take the great wisdom you have to share and immediately incorporate it into their lives? Who are you, and who am I, that people should listen to what we have to say? I am nothing more than a means to an end for God to give a bit of insight to one of His children. When your parents send you a birthday gift that you really wanted or needed, do you praise and exalt the UPS delivery guy for bringing you such a gift?

When you have a proper mindset regarding the source of the message you have to give, you realize that you are nothing more than a delivery driver transporting a gift of great value from one place to another. If the person receives it, give glory to God. If not, release that to God.  God is the only source of truth that changes lives. You are just the messenger.