This past weekend, my wife and I hosted a Christmas party for the young professionals group at our company. As a part of that event, we got to decorate our condo with all sorts of fun Christmas decorations. My wife was the brains behind the operation, but she pretty much turned me loose as far as putting up the decorations wherever I saw fit. A couple of times throughout that process, she lovingly tried to correct a few of my ideas. She would say things like, “That looks pretty good babe, but what if we did this instead.” Just about every time she did that, I would respond in the most Christian, mature way that I was capable of. Usually, that sounded something along the lines of, “If I am not doing it good enough, and you don’t like the way I decorate, then I will just let you decorate everything yourself!”
Pretty mature huh? What can I say? I am a sensitive human being who does not like to be told when I am doing wrong, even when it is in the most loving way possible. I have a hard time receiving direction and guidance, because I feel like I should just know that already. I shouldn’t have to have someone tell me right? I should just simply know what is right and do it all the time no matter what. It’s that simple isn’t it?
I hope by now you have picked up on the sarcasm, or at least in your mind have been thinking that that doesn’t sound exactly right. The truth of the matter is that receiving instruction can be difficult. It can make us feel rejected or inadequate. Plus our experience with instruction, or feedback, has mostly been in the hands of other human beings. Human beings are not always capable of the level of sensitivity, security and love that most of us need to feel to be able to accept instruction in an effective manner.
As a result, we often go to great lengths to avoid receiving feedback. We don’t want to face those uncomfortable areas that we know we need to improve upon, because we associate them with pain and disappointment from our past. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to project these experiences into our relationship with God. It can be hard to see Him as the all forgiving, all loving, merciful father that He is, because we have never seen that fully exemplified in our experiences with other people. Therefore, we are afraid to go to Him with our weaknesses and insecurities, because we are afraid that He will not show us compassion and love. We are afraid he will point His heavenly finger down at us and make us feel inadequate or less than the way people have.
This can lead us into a situation can be very problematic in our walk with God. We try to avoid feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We can mistake conviction for condemnation, and we block it out. We ignore the warnings of the Holy Spirit that something is off and needs to be corrected. When we drown out His voice for too long, we can end up in a place that is destructive and painful without even realizing how we got there.
God’s word tells us that He disciplines those who He loves (Hebrews 12: 6). It tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8: 1). It also tells us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9).
We can see a couple of different things working together in these verses:
1. God will convict us when he sees us making mistakes, BECAUSE HE LOVES US and wants the best for us.
2. The voice of God will not condemn you for your mistakes or make you feel inadequate the way people probably have.
3. God’s power, grace and mercy will shine through when we are courageous enough to respond to the conviction and bring those struggles before His throne.
Lastly, Psalm 103: 8 tells us that, “The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”
The good news is that we can absolutely trust our compassionate and merciful God. He knows our struggles and insecurities even better than we do. He is patient and gentle with us, and the last thing he wants to do is heap condemnation and ridicule on our heads. He knows that we can get that from the world anytime we want. Our Great God wants to embrace us in His loving arms and say, “It’s okay, my child. I know that it’s difficult. I know that in your heart you long to overcome your struggles, and that you have been trying to do so. I am here to let you know that I am in this fight with you, and if you will let me, I will unleash my supernatural power into this situation. It may look impossible through the eyes of your experience, but with God all things are possible. Just receive the conviction of the Holy Spirit with humility, lean into it and repent, and most importantly TRUST ME because I care for you!”