Why should I listen to you?

I'm sure we've all been that person at some point in our lives (or at least have wanted to be).

I’m sure we’ve all been that person at some point in our lives (or at least have wanted to be).

Pride.

It’s the sin that may be the hardest to admit, and yet the easiest at which to succumb.

This pride is what motivates us at times to reject counsel and direction from others, due to a desire to “have it our way.” It causes us to abandon community for the absence of accountability that comes from isolation. After all, Proverbs 18:1 rightly states, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

Quite the contrary, as followers of Christ, we have been called not only to follow Jesus, but to do so along with others. It would be quite difficult to “love one another” (John 13:34), “encourage one another” (Hebrew 3:13) or “pray for one another” (James 5:16) if we each tried to follow these commands from Scripture on our own.

The command that seems to bruise our egos the most, however, is the one to “submit to one another” (Ephesians 5:21).

Think about it. (You won’t have to think that hard.)

Nobody, especially in our culture, wants to submit to anybody. Being a member of the body of Christ by no means makes one exempt.

Independence and autonomy our embedded into the culture at large, and have subtly infiltrated our philosophy as the church of God. While Scripture does admonish us to live in such a way that we are not chronically dependent on one another (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12), we do need each other in order to “attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

The kingdom of God, though, is foreign to this isolationist concept, and often knowing God’s will requires humbly receiving his words from the mouth of someone else. In Jeremiah 38, we find one such case.

After facing near death for his unpopular prophetic ministry, Jeremiah is summoned by King Zedekiah for a private audience. In this meeting, Zekekiah is concerned about his well-being – at this point the Babylonians are besieging Jerusalem – and he inquires of Jeremiah to know whether or not his life will be spared.

Jeremiah replies to Zedekiah, saying, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the LORD in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared” (Jeremiah 38:20).

Isn’t it funny how the Lord will speak through people, with the intention of you heeding that instruction? It’s even more interesting when the Lord uses someone you are not on the best terms with to do so.

Jeremiah and Zedekiah were not exactly buddies. After all, King Zedekiah did let Jeremiah be thrown into a cistern by his officials and had not been heeding any of his warnings until this point; Jeremiah actually makes Zedekiah assure him of his own safety as part of this exchange.

While our relational dynamics may not be that of Old Testament prophet and king of Judah, this interpersonal mandate is still in play. Very simply, God uses other people in our lives to be voices of instruction and correction.

We even see this truth at work in the lives of the apostles. Paul details such an account in his letter to the churches in Galatia:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)

Similarly, we are each called to “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). In order to be taught or admonished, we must be willing to humble ourselves and acknowledge that the human voice we are hearing just may be the voice of God.

As a final consideration, Proverbs 27:17 declares, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” In a world where everyone wants to be sharp, we have to ask ourselves, “Are we willing to be sharpened?”

This requires patience and humility in our relationships with others, not withdrawing from the natural friction that sharpening requires. As long as we are breathing, we will always be learning, growing and going; we need to be willing to listen to the people around us in order to do so.

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~ by christianballenger on August 30, 2014.

4 Responses to “Why should I listen to you?”

  1. Thank you for allowing God to use you and speak through you in your writing. Through this message I have received another piece of a puzzle to help me better understand someone who I love very dearly. Although I cannot reach him in the flesh, your words have given me more insight for how to better pray for him and how to better love him spiritually. Please allow God to keep guiding your pen. You are appreciated.

  2. […] able to offer this correction from his own mouth (2 Timothy 3:16), it often comes from the mouth of others. Let’s do ourselves a favor and just receive it. We may not like it, but we are called to […]

  3. I think you have mentioned some very interesting points , regards for the post.

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