Day #13 “One Another” December 13, 2017
A Provoking Conversation with God.
As we study all the “one-another’s” that Jesus and the Apostle Paul counseled us with, some of them can cause some deep, painful *self-examination. Look at this one:
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Gal. 5: 26)
Oh, sure, I know what conceited is. I’m probably a case study in it. And I get envy. I got the tee shirt! I may not be the brightest bulb in the package, and I may not have completely eliminated conceit and envy from my ways, but at least I can see how they aren’t good for me…or others.
But…provoking? Well…honestly, sometimes I kinda like to do that. Even though my wife and kids have (sometimes not so) gently brought that to my attention, I have been known to get a (small) bit of satisfaction from pushing the right button just to kind of stir things up.
Can anybody relate? I mean, what’s wrong with a little innocent fun?
Well recently (that’s because I resisted for a lonnnnnnng time) the Holy Spirit has gotten through to me that it’s not always that “innocent” and it sure isn’t fun for the other person.
When I was studying these “one-another’s” in preparation for this series, I learned the original Greek meaning of the word translated into English as “provoke.” Provoke: to intentionally or unintentionally stimulate or incite an unwelcome emotion or reaction. To irritate.
I felt a small “ouch” when I read that. Then I asked the Holy Spirit of Christ to show me what He wanted me to know about that. Here’s what I heard:
“Paul, when someone is going along peacefully, experiencing My joy and tranquility, enjoying a conversation with you and others, do you actually get pleasure in moving them from that place of peace and joy in and with Me to a place of irritation, anger, and discontent? Think about it. Who does that sound like?”
“Uh…the evil one?”
“So…those little barbs that I know will get under someone’s skin and “provoke” a person – move them from peace to irritation, that’s not something Jesus would do?”
No answer…but I knew the answer.
“Look, Paul…think about it like this. If you’re saying something to embarrass the other person, to get under their skin, to fluster them, to confuse them, to make them look bad…so that you can laugh and smugly feel like you “won” a little confrontation, then you know that’s not something Jesus would do. In fact, Jesus would stand up for the one who was being hurt and taken advantage of.”
“Well, ok then.”
Never did I sense condemnation, shame or that The Holy Spirit was upset or mad at me. This interaction, as they all are with Him, was done lovingly. And I got the point.
I’m not promising to never do it again. I’m not groveling and asking for forgiveness – that happened 2,000 years ago. I’m not “rededicating myself” (again).
I am resting in Christ and asking Him to show me when I’m tempted to provoke someone. And I’m asking Him to love that other person through me and as me. That’s the only way I can be like Christ…when He does it.
*BTW when I said “self-examination,” I was referring to our “false self” or “ego” or “flesh.” I know that my REAL self—my spirit, is a new creation that was raised with Christ when my old self died with Him. I know my REAL self is right with God, pure, holy, without fault and already seated in heaven in Christ hidden in Christ with God.
That’s the REAL me. The REAL me is just like Christ. That’s because of GRACE!!!