Last night I made it back to the Bible study I visited a few weeks ago. There, I heard a term that captured my attention.
I didn’t need an explanation. I knew exactly what he was talking about.
I also knew what a difficult target that is to hit.
So many times I’ve thought, “I wish I would have said something. I wish I would have stood up for what I believe because God cares about that issue.”
On those occasions, I might have been humble, but I wasn’t bold.
On other occasions, I have spoken up. “This is the will of God, and this is what the Scriptures say about it.” Yet it was the wrong place, the wrong time, or there was simply no care, love, or regard for people in my statement. My mouth spoke the words of God, but my timing and attitude spoke only for the accuser of the brethren.
On those occasions, I was bold, but I certainly wasn’t humble.
Worse, I can’t just judge by people’s reactions. Just because I made everyone angry or made a situation awkward, that doesn’t mean I missed the mark. Jesus once got everyone so upset that they tried to throw him off a cliff. In fact, the cumulative result of his message was that the chosen people of God crucified him with vindictive joy.
As a result, sometimes when I’m feeling very humble, wanting to repent, and certain that I’ve gone way further than I should have because everyone is mad at me—sometimes when I feel that way, I’m not being humble; I’m being carnal and cowardly.
It’s important to have the ability to still yourself, wait for your emotions to settle, and get in the presence of God. It’s important to have people you trust to bounce things off of. And finally, it’s important to trust God to work things out in his time.
None of us are a good judge of what that looks like. As in all things, there is a righteousness that is from God, and there is a righteousness that is from ourselves. As in all things, the child of God is proven to be so by being led by the Spirit of God, not by figuring things out on his own. We hear the Word of God, we believe it, we do it, and we let ourselves be judged by God.
A friend once told me that God is a good Father, and a good Father takes responsibility for correcting his children. He doesn’t write them a rule book, then wait around for them to follow it. He is intimately involved in his children’s lives, correcting or guiding them when they deviate, and taking it upon himself to make sure his children know how it is that they ought to be living.
So I—and we—keep shooting at the target, apologizing when I’ve gone too far, steeling myself for the future when I’ve not gone far enough, and trusting God and the kind rebukes of those I trust to prove safe guidance in the long run.