Just recently it was pointed out to me that what appeared to be something was really not what it appeared to be after all. Ever been accused of something that just was the furthest thing from the truth? I have! Stephen Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” shares a story of a man and his two young boys on a subway. The story basically goes something like this. A man and his two boys got on a subway and as the father sat down the two boys began running around and acting up making the passengers uncomfortable. The dad seemed to be oblivious to the fact that his boys were making a ruckus and causing the other riders to be very distressed and even highly annoyed. After a short while Stephen who became agitated and even angry that this dad was not even paying attention to his own children approached the dad wanting to scold him for his misbehaving children and confronted the ‘irresponsible’ dad. After he confronted the man, the dad apologized for his boys behavior and for not keeping them in line but said his mind was on the fact that his wife, their mother had just died at the hospital. For what had seemed to be a careless father with rude children actually turned out to be a totally different situation all together.
How many times will someone see a situation in another person’s life and make a ‘judgment call’ on that person. For instance, how many are quick to judge someone’s motive or actions based upon what ‘appears’ to be the truth. How many react with condemnation or criticism when they see someone stumble in the faith or maybe act or respond differently than what they think a ‘Christian’ should. Just maybe the person is struggling and growing in his faith and does make a mistake or isn’t mature enough to do the ‘right thing’ at this point in his Christian faith. Maybe it could be that the one being judged truly is walking with God and walking by faith IN THE FIRE! Sometimes God takes us through the fire with Him to teach us, to show us, and ultimately to change us. Walking in the fire with Jesus is going to be tough, hard, and at times painful! It’s during these times that God ‘refines’ His children and consequently those ‘ugly’ things, the ‘chaff’ float to the top and become visible to all around. These are painful times and yes, during these times we should respond to God’s refining work in good and positive ways. Sometimes our responses might appear to some as being wrong or undignified and even ‘unchristian’. Can you imagine Peter when he cut Malchus’ ear off? It’s obvious that Peter wasn’t seeking cut off his ear. He actually was aiming for his head! Certainly this wasn’t a very ‘Christian’ thing to do was it? Surely a disciple of Jesus would not want to hurt someone! A nice Christian would never do such a thing as this would he? The fact is Peter was close to the Lord, growing in his faith, and following Jesus! It happens like this still today. Many will unfortunately ‘misread’ and ‘misjudge’ situations like these. Now there are times, because of habit that we react instead of respond and sometimes we react in negative and even wrong or sinful ways. This doesn’t mean that we’ve backslidden and are living in rebellion and open sin or that Satan has taken over. It just means that we have stumbled as we follow the Lord on this road of faith. The road that at times that takes us through the fire! Walking in the fire with Jesus will be hard and it will get hot and you will stumble, fall, and even sin!
Even so, walk on!