As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Up Go the Defenses

Parakaleo-- that, my friends, I truly believe is my spiritual gift. I know you all are looking at me like, "Uhhh, Jessica, that word isn't even in my Bible." Wrong. It is. The word is Greek, and is translated as exhorting in English.

We have been studying Spiritual Gifts in Sunday School. It has been an interesting study. Over the years, my thoughts on the spiritual gifts have been all over the place, lacking direction and application. The material that has been presented over the past two Sundays has absolutely captured my attention. I have finally had the gifts presented to me in a practical and Biblically-back manner. After yesterday's lesson, I believe I have the gift of exhortation.

to come along side of someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel to help them be all God wants them to be

The special ability God gives some to help strengthen weak, faltering, and fainthearted Christians in such a way that they are motivated to be all God wants them to be.

The ability to help others reach their full potential by means of encouraging, challenging, comforting, and guiding.

The divine enablement to present truth so as to strengthen or urge to action those who are discouraged or wavering in their faith.

People with this gift:
- come to the side of those who are weak in spirit to strengthen them
- challenge or confront others to trust and hope in the promises of God
- urge others to action by applying Biblical truth
- offers advise, an outline for a solution, or a program for progress
- motivates others to grow.

Jessica's number one passion in life: driving others to be all that God wants them to be, whether by encouragement or rebuke.

Jessica's number one problem in life: being on the other end of this action.

I was talking with an old college roommate tonight. I had received a message from a friend earlier in the day that we 'needed to talk.' Given recent actions of mine, which I know were wrong, I have a humungous hunch that our conversation, which will take place in 48 hours, will have a few akward moments. I am already akward and I don't even know for certain that we will be discussion the above-mentioned sins I committed toward this person. For me, it's like being sent to my room and told to stare at the four walls and "Wait till your dad gets home." The thought runs through my mind, "Do I have to wait?!? Why can't we just end this now. Slap me across the wrist; ground me; get it over with." (You should have seen me in high school when I got sent to the principal's office once by some control-hungry substitute teacher. You'd a thought I just got shot).

I am getting better, I think. It is still hard to be on the other end of confrontation though. For me, it is more shame that I should have known better to begin with, even embarrassment over a temporary spiritual "duh moment." But, through experience, I have found it is so easy to put up our defenses. It's like we are going into court. We gather up our arguments, our witnesses, our testimonies, our excuses and do 'mock scenarios' over and over again, fielding every accussation and barracading every weakness. You know what?

Confrontation is not a bad thing. It isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but it is not a bad thing. The exhorter that I may be, I still have faults. And the exhorter that I may be, I can tend to be oblivious to those faults. It runs along the lines of "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye." I just run my course, until all of the sudden, someone throws a mirror in front of my face. I look at it and think, "Who on earth is that?!" That's when the fellow Christian comes along and says, "Jessica, that's you." Ouch.

It's uncomfortable, because we each like to think that we are perfect (yes, you do, don't lie). But that is exactly the reason that we need people to confront us, to challenge us, so that we can become more like Him. I love Hebrews 3:13.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

I can't imagine being exhorted daily, but God's word tells us to. Why? To prevent us from becoming hardened to sin. See sin doesn't march into your life wearing a sleazy outfit and a nametag that says, "Hi! My name is sin, and I am here to ruin your life." Most Christians spot those sins and avoid them rather easily. It's the tricky little ones that get us. It's the little spots on our face: the proud look, a quick tongue (guilty) or, my personal downfall, quick to react (too quick). I can go days lighting into people before finally someone stands up and says, "Jessica, this isn't cool!" I have totally missed it. While dodging all of the big bad bullies and avoiding the alleys, I have been infected by this little tick of a sin. It is important, yay, even necessary for someone else to come up to me and say, "Jessica, you know that you have this problem, right? You know that it's affecting your relationship with God and with other people, right?"

It's good for me. It is good for me to get that out of my life. No, it isn't comfortable, but it is pointless to try and defend it. Sin is not your friend and your friends are not bullies (at least they shouldn't be). The body of Christ was constructed to edify and encourage one another, even groom one another to become more like Christ. I have friends in my life who are willing to put the comfort of our relationship at stake for the sake of my spiritual walk. Those are HUGE blessings. They care! They love you that much.

So, next time someone looks at you and says, "Ummm...we need to talk." Put the briefcase away and leave the defenses down. Let your friends be Christ to you. Let them show you areas in your life that you need to change and then take action to change them. Treat them with respect, because one day, you may need to do the same for them.

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