by Stephen Coney
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:4-5, NIV)
Whether or not a person thinks well of me is not important; what is important is what God thinks of me. This is one of those truths most Christians would agree with in principle, but is not much of a reality in their lives. What others think of us feels very important and is one of the greatest sources of damage to the human soul. Even the oldest of us could tell of things that were said to them in their childhood that have haunted them their entire lives.
Because of the ability of others to hurt us deeply, the stakes are high, and so relationships are often one of the last things we hand over to Jesus. Last year I had completed my devotional time and was walking out of my study when I fell to my knees and gave the Lord my reputation, putting it completely in His hands. Why I did this, I could not say. It seemed unconnected to what I had been contemplating before, but we can see that this was the result of the action of the Holy Spirit deep in my soul. As is often the case He was like the wind: invisible, but His presence obvious from the effects.
One consequence of this was that I had to stop managing my relationships. Because I’m an agreeable person, I’m not used to people being in conflict with me, but I do have a few such relationships. I was convicted that one of them, in particular, that I managed by being careful about the image I presented to this other person—the subjects I raised, what I didn’t say and so forth. In contemplating that my reputation was out of my hands, Jesus offered to speak to this person for me. Since Jesus stands between us and everyone else, He can put a hand on us both. So, I accepted His offer to speak for me. I relaxed completely and was simply myself.
Since I gave over this relationship, it has never been better. I have been exactly who I am and our fellowship has never been warmer. This isn’t to say that we have not had conflicts—we have—but we’ve dealt with them immediately and they’ve disappeared without leaving a scar. Jesus has again proven that He will take care of us better than we do ourselves.
Warmly in Christ,
“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.” (Psalm 5:11, ESV)
- Is all of you taking refuge in God, or do you have relationships that you are trying to manage, maybe “with God’s help”?
- Is the Lord bringing to mind a particular relationship? What do you think would happen if you entrusted it to Jesus and stopped wearing a mask?