Say you are teaching the story of Lydia and you reach that passage that seems innocuous, yet is anything but.
And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us, Acts 16:15.
You know there is someone who regularly calls the preacher, deacons, and elders and tells them what they need, expecting everyone to be at their beck and call, or who takes them to task for not doing as much as she thinks they should (as if she were the only qualified judge of such things). Meanwhile, this same person has yet to ever offer service to anyone else in the congregation. Instead she judges the entire congregation on how well she is served.
So you make the point clearly: Even a new Christian like Lydia, a brand new babe in Christ, could tell that her own faithfulness to the Lord was based on how often she served others, not on how often she was served by others. And why shouldn’t it be, when the Lord she claimed to be serving was a servant himself?
You hope to see the dawning light, and perhaps downcast eyes as that student realizes her error. But no, there she is nodding vigorously, perhaps even saying, “Exactly!” Your heart sinks because you know your efforts were in vain. Instead of examining herself, she is still examining the church. She is thinking, “Those people needed this, because they don’t serve like they should.”
It doesn’t matter the subject. It probably happens in every class and with every sermon in every church. Meanwhile, the folks who knock themselves out trying to be what the Lord expects them to be sit there wondering, “Do I do enough?”
So here is the thought for this morning. Stop judging everyone else. Think about yourself, for this is one area where it is not only allowed to be a little egocentric, but required. Don’t say, “They needed that.” Instead, say, “I needed that. Now how can I get better?”
Whatever the subject, even if you think it has absolutely nothing to do with you or your life, think about yourself. It is not my business to fix everyone else; it is only my business to fix myself. It is not my business to decide what everyone else needs to do; it is only my business to realize what I need to do. I must constantly ask myself, Did I need that? I know I did, somehow, even if it is not yet obvious to me. That only means I need to look harder.
Every lesson I hear, every sermon I listen to, should have me thinking, “How can I use this to become a better disciple of my Lord?”
They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, "Is it I?" Mark 14:19.