Have you ever been reading….and words literally jump off the page at you……? Words took wings the other day and flew right in my face.
The book of Matthew is a very familiar book to me as I have read it countless times in my life. During one of my recent quiet times, the passage in Matthew 16:22-26 just jumped off the page at me! It shows me that there is always something fresh to learn from reading familiar passages. Allow me to share what God revealed to me….
First, let’s look at the passage:
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him 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.’ Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?'”
This is what jumped off the page at me….if Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, can be the source of words prompted by Satan, then so can mine! Peter’s advice was satanic in principle, for Satan’s primary aim is to promote self-interest as the chief end of man. Satan is called the prince of the world. We all, in our flesh, promote self-interest. You can almost hear Satan telling Peter to tell Jesus, “Save yourself at all costs! Be self-serving!” Jesus was very specific in His rebuke of Peter–deny self and be mindful of the concerns of God.
This small passage of Scripture has taken my actions, my words, and my thought life to new places. Realizing I am very capable, even with good intentions, of giving bad and ungodly advice. Many times now when I am asked a question…I am NOT very quick to answer. I have learned to say, “Let me pray about that and get back to you!”
I have come to realize that if I am not in a state of prayer and abiding in Christ…I could very easily misguide someone…even though I don’t mean to! Now that, folks, is very scary to me! At 52…I very much want to help and encourage others…but have a sobering attitude that I MUST seek Christ… and continually keep my flesh at bay. It is a daily struggle for me.
Point of the post: BE very careful giving advice…very careful. What jumps in your mind isn’t always from God. It can be from self. Go into INTENSE training….train yourself…..to STOP….PRAY and take yourself out of the equation. Allow God to speak to your heart.
Sometimes it may mean that you don’t give a personal opinion at all. It may mean you direct someone to “professional Christian counseling” or take someone to God’s Word. God has all the answers. He will direct you…But you have to SEEK Him. Listen…which may require some waiting…then act on what He says.
I urge you…learn to pray, continually asking God for wisdom. He will not hesitate to give freely! He is the best Counselor and will speak through you but, it is a conscious, very conscious, intent on our part to Allow HIM the right of way!