Let me ask you a question - "Who are you speaking for?"
Chances are these are truths you know and understand, but let's examine this a bit more. As a believer, we know the right answer to our question - God is the one we are, and want, to be speaking for. We want to be His hands, His feet and His voice.
Those intentions are good and Godly, but do we act on them?
In those moments of anger or in the temptation to gossip it's pretty easy to see when we fall short, but Scripture has given me an example of a time when it's perhaps not so obvious.
Join me in Matthew 16 where Jesus tells Peter that he is the rock on whom He will build the church and He's given him the keys of heaven. Clearly, Jesus has a high view of Peter. His opinion leads me to believe we can safely say Peter was a godly man. Following this conversation, Jesus shares what lies ahead - His suffering, death and resurrection.
So let's read Matthew 16:22-23 - "Peter took him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke Him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'"
Friend, stop and think for a minute about the contrast that takes place over a few verses - Jesus is confirming and affirming Peter and the call God has on his life and a while later He is calling him Satan. We can't find a bigger contrasting comparison!
It's important to recognize and think about this for many different reasons - 1 it shows us the perfectness of Jesus, 2 - it reveals the humanness of the disciples and 3 it has the potential to teach us much.
That has happened as I look at this quick exchange of words more closely. Like Peter I too have declared in my heart and with my mouth that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." I've never had a conversation with our Lord and Savior, but He does speak to me through His living Word and Holy Spirit. And like Peter, I've been convicted of speaking for Satan.
This has never once been my desire, but yet it's happened. Look again at Jesus' words - "You (Peter) are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."
I don't have physical conversations with Jesus, but I'm guilty of being a stumbling block to others at times. I'm not talking about the obvious situations of anger and gossip, but think about the moments when a friend is walking through a hard time. What do you, I and every other person who wants to be a good friend do? Better yet, what do we want to do?
My desire is to make them feel better. I hurt with them and for them. I want my words to be an encouragement and long to point them to Truth. These intentions are good and I believe they are godly, but this short conversation in Scripture leaves me wondering if sometimes I go about it wrongly.
Peter is a lot like us - he didn't want his friend, his leader and teacher to suffer. He focused on the current situation and spoke what was on his heart. I have to admit I do the same. In the midst of pain, my own or a loved ones, it's easy to lose perspective and allow feelings to take over. Sometimes I focus more on my friend, than my Father. My eyes are on their pain, instead of His plan. Can you say the same?
Friend, I've been thinking about this for a few days and need to keep praying about it for more, and I'd love for you to do the same. There is no easy answer and this is yet another reminder of the importance for daily time in God's Word and an abiding relationship with Him. We must constantly and continuously seek Him for direction and wisdom.
Our hearts are for our friends and loved ones...may our words be for them and from our Father. There will be times those words are ones of compassion, support and sympathy. But there may be times when the words are harder to speak and may be a challenge to receive.
So let me close with another question - Are you willing to speak for Christ even when it's difficult? The challenge may be for you - it's hard to say words that might be misunderstood or unwanted. The struggle may be for the one who's listening - it's hard to receive words that challenge you to act/think differently or push you to end the pity party.
Friend, as I finish this post I pray I've been speaking for God our Father. May these words encourage you to think about yours.
"For I did not speak on My own,
but the Father who sent Me commanded Me
to say all that I have spoken."