Sunday, March 22, 2009

Struggling with Respectability?

Selwyn Hughes tells of a humiliating, ‘ugly’ time in his ministry when, after preaching a hugely theological sermon and feeling somewhat proud of himself, his ego was dropped from a rather large height when a trusted confidant assisted God in reinforcing that Jesus didn’t say, “Feed my giraffes,” but “Feed my sheep.”[1]

Hughes was suddenly brought into the light to see his ego being a barrier to his ministry. He then set about repenting of this immediately it came to his attention. God forgives in less than an instant when we turn back to him.

I can recall a time (in fact some many times) when as a husband I’ve struggled to gain the respect of my wife; and only later do I recognise, after feeling initially critical of her, that often (though not always) it’s a case that I’ve hardly been respect-able. There simply wasn’t much about me during these times for her to respect.

Perhaps I’d not loved her or responded to her as well as I should have? Or perhaps I’d not been respectable within myself, and allowed some other inherent weakness to show through without seeking God to cleanse me of it first?

Isn’t it ironic that the subject of respectability finds us all out at one point or other? And as Hughes points out they prove to be a ‘Jacob’s Jabbok’[2] to us... we resist the lesson God is trying to bring us to, but inevitably we’re open to re-learn the same old, tired lesson yet again. God is so full of grace, isn’t he? It’s humiliating yet necessary.

It’s like the ‘pity party’ we hold in our own honour at times. I made a commitment some time ago to be ‘never pitiable,’ but it still tends to raise its ugly head when I move off track. This here i.e. self-pity, is a good illustration of the thesis of someone unworthy of respect.

It reminds me of a quote I read only recently:

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror” –Ken Keyes Jr.

We tend to see the world from our own perspective, and in a sort of reverse way, people tend to mirror back to us what they see in us. What goes around comes around.

If we behave in a unrespectable way we generally can’t criticise people for not respecting us, can we?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Selwyn Hughes, Spoken from the Heart (Surrey, England: Crusade for World Revival, 2005), p. 71.
[2] For the full story on Jacob’s wrestle with God see Genesis 32:22-32. According to Hughes, ‘Jabbok’ is a place of honesty before God.

No comments: