Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Bolder 2015

                I am a sucker for a sad face. This is not a good thing when you care for animals as your full time job. All a dog has to do is look at me with their droopy eyes, and slightly tilted head and I am mush in their hands. I have always had a hard time saying no. I have always struggled with speaking up when I know something is not right. I would much rather stand against the wall, unnoticed then have someone look at me with sad eyes and slightly tilted heads. This inability to say no has caused me to stay quiet when I know the Lord wants me to speak. It has caused me to step back and sugar
Picture of one of our dog's- Cymon
coat the words I want to speak, so that the hearer is more willing to digest them. But isn’t that what Christianity in America has become? We have sugar coated the message of sin and death and separation from God so that people will feel more comfortable and our numbers in the pews every week will continue to grow. I am one of these sugar coaters- I admit it, and it just so happens to be the reason why the Lord has given me another word for this New Year.
                So far He has talked to me about living a life filled with Thanksgiving. Learning to look at what I have instead of what I don’t have. He has also talked to me about being committed to the works and the plans and the purposes that He has laid before me. Instead of becoming distracted and wandering, He wants me to be focused on Him and on the things He has set before me to do. Lastly, He has been talking to me about my speech and the sugar I layer on top of it so that the hearers will be more ready to receive it. Sugar is not all bad for us, but too much of it will eventually rot us from the inside out. We cannot and should not sugar coat His Word. We must learn to be bold in our speech, so that we may live boldly for Him. The last and final word for this New Year is “Boldness”. He wants me to wean myself off the sugar and get back to speaking the truth of His Word.
                The word boldness means to be free in the way that we speak. Here in America we are told that we have the right to freedom of speech. That is not exactly true. If we speak openly about Jesus today in our nation, we will most likely be labeled troublemakers, haters, judgmental, and even some of us may lose our jobs and homes because we have “offended” someone. So the whole freedom of speech thing is not exactly true. However, we do have the right to defend our freedom to speak about Jesus freely and openly. Here in our nation we are not put to death or thrown into a prison for reading God’s Word, we still do have some freedom when it comes to speaking about Christ. However, I am afraid that this freedom is slowly dissipating. But I digress. To be bold in our speech means that we are not afraid to speak the truth when the truth needs to be spoken, and it means that we are not fearful of the consequences when we do speak the truth.
                Let me give you an example, one that the Lord used to show me the need I have for more boldness in my life. I have a very close woman in my life who is a new babe in Christ. Many times she will call me with some issue or problem, and what I want to say to her I hold back, because I don’t want to hurt her feelings or make her not want to speak to me anymore. She is not one to take critic well, and if you point out where she might be wrong, it causes a volcano of emotion to erupt from her. I know that if I speak to her the words that the Lord is laying on my heart to give her, she will not be happy about it, and drama will ensue. But in the end these words are exactly what she needs to hear. However, instead of speaking boldly, I usually end up sugar coating it for her and she leaves our conversation the same as when she came into it- still full of herself.
Photo taken from: 1hdwallpapers.com

                The Lord showed me that every time I put sugar on my words to her all I am doing is hindering her walk. I am making her feel good about herself, when I need to be showing her that Jesus is the only One she needs to feel anything for. Instead of showing her scriptures that I know will be hard for her to digest, I end up giving her ones that will make her happy, and eventually help her feel better about herself. All I am doing is helping her rot from the inside out. When we choose to sugar coat the words the Lord wants us to speak, all we are really doing is choosing ourselves over the ones who need Jesus the most, plus we do not love them as Christ would have us to love them when we choose sugar over the truth.  Oswald Chambers writes “An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Updated edition, January 1 entry.)
                Paul writes in Philippians 1:20 that “according to {his} earnest expectation and hope that in nothing {he} shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether  by life or by death.” (parentheses mine) Many times I want to speak, but I pull back for fear of causing drama, (I do not like a lot of drama) distance or anger towards me for what I have said. I think to myself, “what it she gets upset and stops being my friend? What if I say the truth but they don’t want to hear it and turn away from me?” Our fear of losing others in our lives is what causes us to sugar coat our words and be disobedient to His Word. When we sugar coat, we are in all reality, disobeying the Word of God in our lives.
                “These are things you shall do; speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice and peace.” (Zechariah 8:16). When we choose to sugar coat the word that the other person needs to hear, we have not only disobeyed God, but we have chosen to tell our friend, family member, co-worker a lie. “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25)
                We are lying to ourselves and lying to them when we choose to sugar coat God’s word. They may not want to hear what it is that God’s word says. They may not like what the Lord is speaking to them through you, and they may walk away from you and never speak to you again. You may lose all your friends, but don’t forget that you have a friend who is with you every single day because you have Jesus. I am not saying that we need to go around and start pointing out all the faults of our brothers and sisters and stand in the streets proclaiming the damnation that is coming upon those who fail to repent. What I am referring to are those moments when we know God wants us to speak up and say the truth, but instead we sugar coat and make it easier for the other person to digest. We pat them on the back and give them a spoonful of sugar instead of the truth they need to hear. We are allowing one another to rot from the inside out, because we are fearful to be bold in our speech and in walks with Jesus.
                Jesus was bold. He did not sugar coat His words. They were and are to this day hard to digest sometimes, but when He speaks His truth into your heart, what happens? You are changed. You are renewed; you draw closer to Him and take one step closer to being more like Him because He did not give you sugar, He gave you truth. He speaks truth to us because He desires us to grow into His fullness and to be images of His mercy and grace to the world around us. If we do not stop sugar coating what we speak, then the church will eventually rot away. We must be bold in our words, and in our deeds, because in the end it is through our boldness that Jesus Christ is clearly seen.
            
Photo taken from: Pinterest
    If we are fearful to speak the truth to someone, then we are not looking out for them, we are looking out for ourselves. I would much rather have someone tell me the truth, rather than sugar coat it. I would rather have the Word given to me in boldness than in spoonfuls of sugar. I may not like what they have to say, and I may not agree with what they have to say, but if it is from God, He will make His Word stick to my bones and give me the nourishment that I need to grow thereby. Are we willing to become bold in our speeches and in our walks? That is what I am being asked today- am I willing to count it all as loss and give spoonfuls of boldness, or would I rather just pass out the candy from the sidelines?

                It is my prayer that today I would choose to be bold in my speech and in my walk, no more the candy giver, but instead the truth speaker. I pray that I would no longer look to my own preservation, but to the preservation of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, and those who are without. I pray that I would no longer be that child “tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15) May we all become bold witness for Christ, our One and only True Friend. In Jesus name, amen and amen.