EVERY now and then God reminds me of a truth that we possibly all rail against: we cannot control the direction others go in, no matter how apt — for their situation — we think our advice might be. (Please forgive, for a moment, the possible arrogance of such a position as to ‘know’ what is good for others — much of the time it’s a folly, I agree…)
It’s the very definition of frustration: to expect a result that is unreasonable to expect.
It’s unreasonable to expect another person to see what we see, to believe what we believe they should do, and to require they act how we would act if we were them.
It’s unreasonable to expect that they, too, won’t get frustrated. Frustration meets frustration, as one party frustrated frustrates another. We have to get beyond our mutual frustration. We have to stop expecting things of one another. We have to stop looking externally, and allow God to wring us out internally.
Only God Himself
If God himself won’t convict a person to an attitude or an action, we have no chance.
In that way, it’s easier to conceive someone coming up with their own ideas for change than it is for that person to listen to us.
Much of the time I’ve repented of rebellion or evil against God it’s generally been about others in my orbit being used by the Holy Spirit. But I, alone, decided. Only the Holy Spirit has the ability to cause my heart to see the truth in what others say. My pride would otherwise castigate what God intends that I hear.
Only God’s truth can convince us of that which our pride might conceal from us.
We are ruined without God’s speaking of others’ truth into our hearts. This is why we need each other.
But only God himself will ever convince us of anything. And God’s role is to humble us enough that we might simply be open to listening, in order that we might finally see the truth in what others are saying.
A Recent Example
The person who speaks most truth into my life is my wife. Yet some of the time I cannot bear to hear it; until that is I get that nudge of the Spirit, that warm wash of shame, to listen and admit my error. I’m not rebelling against her when I can’t bear her truth, I’m rebelling against God himself.
I often like to think I’m further along ‘the journey’ than I am. I can resent where God has placed me, in this season and in his perfect will. But the truth is God — in all our lives — has us exactly where we need to be.
This doesn’t mean that our lives are always great. Remember that life (from a Christian perspective) is not about our comfort and pleasure, but it’s about our character development and practice.
When Sarah reminds me what God would have me acknowledge, it’s only his Spirit that enlivens me to repent and to acknowledge it. Sarah, though I love her unconditionally, has little or no influence. It’s all the Holy Spirit in me.
We can’t take people where God is not leading.
We can’t take people into their Promised Land if God hasn’t yet shown them.
Helping people with their problems is about learning how and where God is leading them. Then it’s simply about affirming and challenging their theology and practice.
This seems like a worthwhile saying:
When the Holy Spirit convicts,
The person within commits.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.