Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. (1 Timothy 4:11-15)
“Why won’t they listen?”
It’s frustrating to say something and be either ignored or attacked, and it happens even when we’re speaking God’s truth. Sometimes the attacks get personal. People tell us we can’t possibly know what we’re talking about. We’re too young, too old, uneducated, misinformed, naïve, and so on. We want to teach because sharing is part of God’s love, but what happens when people don’t listen?
NEWSFLASH. Not everyone reads the Bible. Not everyone believes the Bible is God’s Holy Word. Not everyone even believes God exists, and if they recognize any glimpse of God at all, it’s often a “Googled” god, where they’ve picked and chosen what they want to believe to be true about God. When we share with others who seem disinterested or antagonistic, let’s remember that it’s not comfortable to become humble, admit you’re not in control, seek and accept who God is, trust Him, dig into Scripture and be changed by it, and obey God and His Word. Change is uncomfortable and inconvenient.
We can’t assume that just telling people what’s in the Bible is going to convict them to change their lifestyles. I’m not saying we shouldn’t share what’s in the Bible. We need to share whatever God says we’re supposed to share. We can only know what and when and with whom to share by knowing God ourselves. We can sometimes know the content of His Word well enough to quote it with verses appropriate for just about any situation, but that doesn’t mean God’s Word has permeated our lives and is pouring out of us. God’s Word only permeates our lives and pours out of us as we study and read it through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then live it out loud with the same guidance. We live God’s Word out loud…and sometimes we use words.
God’s Word tells us we’re not going to be understood by everyone in the world, so why are we surprised? We feel isolated and ignored, misunderstood and mistreated, but the reality is we’re often playing a game of Sardines. In case you’ve never played, it’s a bit like Hide-and-Seek, but one person hides then everyone else searches on their own. When someone finds the hider, they stay hidden in that same place together. More and more people are added (and packed in as sardines) as they each find the original hiding place. The goal is for everyone to be found, and they end up together.
Of course, God doesn’t intend for us to stay in the dark, and He doesn’t intend for us to live isolated lives, even in groups. We meet God in his Word, then live it out loud in the world. Meet with others to study and worship, then live God’s truth and biblical community out loud in the world.
Don’t expect the world to change. Let God be in charge of you; invite Him to change you. He’s in charge of the world, and He can change it in whatever timing He wants.
Dear God, when I get frustrated with the way other people respond to me sharing God’s love and truth, I know I am counterproductive. I get paralyzed or angry or defensive, and I don’t reflect You through the process. Convict me anytime I stray from Your will. I don’t want this to be about me. I only want to honor You. When I teach, whether in words or through actions, remind me Your teaching is always about learning. The only way people will learn through my teaching is if I am yielding to You fully. Even then, I understand each person has the choice whether or not to obey, including the people with whom I’m sharing. Thank You for taking my humble attempts to share You and using them in a way people can receive. May all my words, attitudes, and actions point directly to You.