The following has probably happened to you, or you've witnessed it: you pass a car, muttering to yourself something not pleasing to God about the other driver, but the next thing you know, the other driver is sitting in his car right beside you at the next red light. It happens to me too often as I pull into Kennett from highway 25 South and never (!) miss that north red light.
On Tuesday, January 15, driving on the then snow-and-ice covered Highway 160 from Doniphan to Poplar Bluff, I drove by three unoccupied vehicles turned on their sides in ditches. After passing the fourth such vehicle, I ended my fussing at the car ahead of me that was going slower than I wanted.
Pastors struggle against sin on a daily basis like everyone else. Yet others' sins and/or darkness of hearts should not what gives us comfort, but our relief should come from the only God who exists who has mercy on us all, at least in this life. Christians who experience their own failings to be God-pleasing in their lives are doubly blessed because the Holy Spirit is the one who directs us and shows us our own foolishness.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth concerning "spiritual gifts", or the ability to discern the Word of God and false mumblings of the false gods, whether it be carved of stone or written on parchment encased in a secular shrine. Paul teaches, "You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says 'Jesus is accursed!' and no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:3-4)
In other words, no one can know God without God's gift of faith in Him, and one cannot curse something one doesn't believe exists. But the idols of stone and paper cannot speak and are mute. We give them meaning, but it always is a creation of our own minds. If we are able to impose our will or meaning to anything or anyone, wouldn't that make us God? The Epiphany season redirects us to listen to God in His Word where He speaks to us. The most blessed spiritual gift of all is the faith in Christ that He gives us. That is what saves us, and it is meant for all who have ears.
God is the one who gives us meaning of Him. He speaks to us in His wisdom, and we mostly speak and act in foolishness when it's outside the Word of God. An inconsiderate driver with little compassion for others will reflect the devil's view of others by believing that others exist for his glory. Only the Holy Spirit can identify this as sin and convict us, but the Holy Spirit also reminds us of God's forgiveness and helps equip us with love for God that guides our actions to more often please Him.
A fellow pastor recently passed along an old Irish proverb: "The wise man is the one who thinks twice before he says nothing." Pray that we listen to the voice of the Lord revealed in His Word. Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Pastor Timothy Matthew
is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Kennett.