Duncan's Message Mar. 2019

Message from Duncan Mar. 2019

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul gives this advice:

‘Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body’ (Ephesians 4 verse 25)

Good advice. I don’t always get it right, but I am committed to honesty. I try to be honest about who I am. That doesn’t mean I confess all my sins when I preach - that’s stupid. But I try not to pretend to be something I’m not. Yet our world doesn’t operate like that. So, why be honest?

Firstly, no one is perfect anyway. So, don’t pretend you’re perfect, and don’t put anyone else on a spiritual pedestal. That’s clear from the Bible.

Secondly, it’s really healthy to be honest together. I’ve got to be honest with you, and you with me, or we’re not going to get any better.

Thirdly, we each must do our own business with God, and he knows exactly how we are.

Fourthly: remember, people live in process. A therapist once wrote to her minister: ‘They keep telling me I have to help my clients come to their own conclusions and decisions. True change only comes when the client sees an insight for herself, or himself, and makes their own choice. The therapist has to wait even when the client makes poor choices, because the goal is not to make the clients dependant on us, but to help them make their own good decisions. True strength and growth only come from having gained the insight oneself, and having chosen freely.’

I admit, Christians don’t always allow people to be where they are in their process. I remember a film where a student said to his college lecturer, ‘Be honest with me. Tell me straight, I can take it.’ You can see the lecturer thinking, ‘If I told you how bad you really are, you’d quit.’ But the lecturer saw the student in potential and in process. We should all do that, and let God work on that person in his own time.

So, let me say: I am capable of all possible sins. I love the story of the little boy who prayed, ‘Dear Jesus, please forgive all the bad things I did today, and all the bad things I thought about doing, but didn’t get around to.’ That’s me. But then, unless I’m capable of committing the sins you commit, I’m not capable of being your friend - only your judge.

We have this idea that a Christian should be perfect. I heard of someone asked to preach at a woman’s funeral. She had been a faithful Christian, whose witness touched thousands of people. The preacher said to her daughter, ‘I’m sorry to hear about your mother. This must be difficult for you.’  She said, ‘No. So many people came to know Christ because of her, we celebrate.’ The preacher said, ‘Don’t give me that! Your mother died!’ The woman started crying. They spent time together then, talking about reality.

I wish I had been wise enough to do the same when my dad died. I was in my twenties. When dad died his wife refused to let anyone cry at the funeral. She said it was a happy time, because dad had gone to be with Jesus. That’s true, but it denied the loss we felt. We needed to be real and honest, and couldn’t.

Remember, God’s grace is sufficient. He’s faithful. He loves you. He’ll never let you go. So, be honest. Be free. God will hold you.

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