Thursday, November 3, 2016

Target Lessons



A few weeks ago, I went to one of my favorite places, Target. It's like a place of peace for me. 😃 As I was walking through the aisles with a to-do list I overheard two co-workers speaking. One employee was trying to explain to the other the difference between the facial products. There are a ton of them, so I can see how this topic would be a little bit confusing. At one point one of the employees raised her voice and said: "Why can't you get this, it is so easy." She wasn't listening to the other person, just cutting her off mid-sentence. I immediately thought---Why is she speaking to someone like that? If she doesn't understand help her understand. I then felt the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit, the gentle impression of Him checking me- Isn't that how your conversations go sometimes? As you watch the way of the world, isn't that how people sometimes talk to each other without listening? Touche God, Touche. 


The Scripture in James 1 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger {James 1:19}. So often in this world, we are either formulating our response when we should be listening, cutting someone off mid-sentence to give them our opinion, or just flat out angry and defensive. Some of us are so concerned with being right that we've lost the art of being a good listener.  

When we don't take the time to truly listen to someone we so often find ourselves just quickly speaking to prove a point, even if we mean well. I find myself doing this, especially when someone comes to me for advice. I've already got my response on deck. My intentions are good, I truly want to help that person, but sometimes I just need to have the spirit of close thy mouth and listen.

I find that people will come to me to vent, for advice, and sometimes for my reaction. If I'm quick to give advice and the person just wants to vent, I may push this person away with my impulsive reaction. Listening gives me the opportunity to:

1) Hear from my Heavenly Father: pray and ask for guidance 
2) Ask questions to better understand the situation


"Since we are living by the Spirit , let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives." {Galatians 5:25} 

God knows His plan. We are still here on this earth because of the great commission {Matthew 28:16-20}. God did not intend for us to be saved just so we can get our tickets stamped for Heaven. It's a huge deal, but if that was the only reason, He would have immediately removed us from this world. We are here for a purpose. Everyone has a role to play {1 Corinthians 12:27} Learning how to fully walk out our purpose is done with the help of the Holy Spirit. God knows exactly what we all need. He knows where we are on our journey and what we need to hear in order to move forward. 

I never want my actions or words to be a stumbling block to someone's walk {1 Corinthians 8:9}. This world is difficult enough without me adding to it. Instead, I'm learning that while the person is speaking to just pause and ask God in a silent prayer to give me the words to say.

"Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized--whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearing in Christ--but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
{1 Corinthians 9:22-23} MSG

Are we truly seeing things from another's point of view? A lot of the time we try to fit into someone's shoes with our shoe still on. Meaning we are speaking to them from our own experience. While it's comforting to know that they are not alone in their difficulties, it may not help that person. For example, I had the opportunity to go to college, move away from my hometown, and live on my own. If I'm not careful, I may speak to someone that didn't have that opportunity with the attitude as if that option is available to everyone. Their story isn't my story, so it's very important for me to understand what options were available to them and meet them where they are. If I speak from my experience without understanding theirs, I may lose the opportunity to build a relationship and possibly the opportunity to show Christ's love and/or share the Good News. My purpose in this person's life is ordered by God and not by me. 

When we are guided by the Holy Spirit and have a better understanding, it lends itself to an opportunity to build a relationship. It is so important as a Christian to live by the Spirit. Only God can remove the scales from the eyes of unbelievers and prepare hearts for His seed. We have to be careful that we don't put the pressure on ourselves to be superman (or woman). The commands are to love God and love people. Now, don't misunderstand me. It is very important to share your faith and stand/speak in truth! There is never a time that I don't miss the opportunity to give God the glory and share how He is moving in my life and the lives of others, but there is a time for everything. Constantly being in touch with God's presence will give us wisdom and discernment to know the difference of our own will versus God's. The result of good discernment will help us to love each other well! 

When we do hear from the Holy Spirit and He is telling us to speak truth, we have to say it!  A lot of the time we find ourselves not wanting to offend someone or hurt their feelings. This doesn't mean that I'm speaking to someone with evil motives or raising my voice. But we know that truth will often offend. I can say something in love (meaning my motives are pure) but it might be received with offense. However, if it is truly from the Holy Spirit, there will be fruit. Meaning, it will plant a seed or continue to feed something that has already been planted. Be obedient and don't worry about trying to win praises from people. 

"I don't speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know His commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say."  {John 12:49-50}

We have a helper that will guide us to bring understanding and to speak truth. Continue to pray so that our actions and words are one with our Father. Jesus is our example. If He needed our Father, how much more do we need Him! {John 5:19}

Loving people and spreading the good news isn't always the same formula, but it is our purpose. It was never intended for us to do it without God's help. Let's be honest, God doesn't need our help. In fact, it's probably a lot easier to remove us from the equation and do it Himself. But He loves having the relationship with us. Involving us means that it builds our relationship with Him because we will be in constant communication with Him. He fills us up so that we can consistently pour out to others with patience and love. If I find myself being short with people or easily aggravated I know I need a little more time with Jesus. ;-)

This world needs to see that Jesus is alive and that His light is still shining on this earth. That heaven is here on earth. It is my prayer that we will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. 







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