Today's Pondering: Practicing What We Preach

… if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:17-24 (New International Version)

When we go to church, what is our expectation?  My last post about commitment led a friend on Facebook to post the following quote on my wall:  “A church isn’t a museum for saints-it’s a hospital for sinners.”-Dear Abby.  I took from this what one would expect; that I had perhaps been a little too hard on the Christians that day.  I forget sometimes that just because someone is going to church, that doesn’t mean that they will be perfect.  They are hoping to be made perfect by going.  Or at least this is what should be going on in their heads, I gather.  My problem has always been that I put people up on a pedestal; especially those who appear to be better at this “life” stuff than I am.  Being in the presence of greatness doesn’t always motivate me, in fact, it sometimes makes me feel more certain that I will never be great. 

This is the height of spiritual discontent.  When you are looking at the life someone else is living and comparing your own to theirs, you are forgetting to give God credit for all of the good work He has done on you.  I sometimes have to mentally smack myself in the head and say, “Remember what He has brought you through.”  Not that I could forget, but sometimes I get distracted by what I haven’t accomplished and it keeps me from appreciating all that lies behind me. 

Some people may spend their entire lives in this way, always looking at what they haven’t done and never giving themselves or God any credit for how well they have managed to come through the hard times in their lives.  Even if we’ve made mistakes, the fact that we can look back at those mistakes and know that we were wrong is a big accomplishment.  At least, now we know what we shouldn’t be doing and maybe we can help others see the pitfalls before they get to them.  Generally, it doesn’t do much good to warn people about things because they are going to do what they want to do.  But wouldn’t it be nice to know that we have used our experience to do more than tell a good story every once in a while?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that we might be able to prevent someone else from making the same mistakes we’ve made or that if we can’t prevent the mistake, we can at least help them understand and cope with the consequences of it?  I don’t believe that God wants us to be selfish with our knowledge.  He doesn’t give us understanding so that we can squirrel it away and never do anything significant with it. 

What do you know that might help someone else?  Are you willing to share your experiences or are you hoping that people will just be able to figure out how wonderful you are without your giving them any clue?  It’s something to think about on this lovely Thursday morning.

Have a wonderful day!