Thursday, February 12, 2015

NBA #12: No Pedestals!

New Believer Advice #12:  Never put yourself or anyone else up on a pedestal!
            We are all human.  We will all be weak at some point.  We will all fail at some point and let other people down.  None of us has a right to look down on anyone.  Only God sits high enough to do that.  We are all in need of understanding, compassion, grace, forgiveness, and love! 
            So never think that anyone is incapable of falling.  Never hold another person up so high in your mind – as some great, godly, superhuman hope for the common man – that you are crushed when they fall and are unable to extend grace to them.  Many people have had their faith crushed when some “spiritual giant” fell.  Never make anyone into a “spiritual giant” in your eyes.  Do not put that burden on another person.  They are human, too, and will fail at some point.  Give them grace when they fail, not the blame for crushing your faith.   
            And do not think that you are above anyone else either.  You are sure to fail at some point, be weak and in need, and to let others down occasionally, too.  You will have to say sorry at times, fix something you broke, right a wrong.  You will still sin and give in to temptation.  The only difference now is that it will bother you. 
            [And your goal is to grow in righteousness and to sin less and less as you mature in the faith.   The more you follow after Christ and seek His righteousness, the less enticing sin will be.  And remember, garbage in, garbage out.  If you fill your mind and heart with garbage, don’t be surprised if you end up sitting in the dump that you have made out of your life.  Protect your mind and seek righteousness, not garbage!] 

            We are all human and we will all fall.  Have grace for others if you want others to have grace for you.  And have some grace for yourself, too.  You need help and encouragement and forgiveness and grace and mercy just like the next person.  It’s what makes us human!  And it’s okay to be human, as long as we pick ourselves up after we fall and keep following after the Lord!
            Remember that this life is not one big battle.  It is many small, daily ones, one right after the next.  With many chances to make it right with others.  And with a chance to make it right with God every time you fall.  So when you do, ask for forgiveness, pick yourself back up again, reconnect with God’s love, healing, grace, and mercy, and keep moving forward.  Eyes on Christ.  One step at a time.

(New stuff for this post.)
            I think one of the reasons we put people up on pedestals is because we want someone to believe in, to have faith in, to restore our faith in humanity.  So we elevate people in our minds and we think about them when we want to feel good about life.  But when they show their humanness, we are crushed and we say, “How could they?”
            Well, they could because they are human, too.  We just didn’t allow them to be human in our minds.
            And we ourselves seek to be on a pedestal (or put ourselves on one in our own mind) because we want to be great examples to others, to be in the spotlight, to inspire others, to get the glory, because we feel like others expect it of us, etc.  And we fail to remember that we are human, too.  That we are weak and will fail at some point.
            And then when we do, we fail to have grace for ourselves because “How could I?”
            Well, you can because you are not superhuman.  You are human, too.  Just like everyone else.  And so you should not get too hard on yourself when your humanness leaks through your superhuman shell.  You are just as in need of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and understanding as the next person.
            We should never put anyone up on a pedestal because . . .
            - it’s not fair to them,
            - pedestals are shaky and unstable, and it is too exhausting and difficult to stay balanced on them,
            - they are lonely places to be,
            - and because we expect so much out of the person on the pedestal that we fail to extend grace and forgiveness to them when they fall.  Instead, we blame them for ruining our faith in humanity.  Maybe even in God.
            But that is not their fault.  It is ours, for putting them up there to begin with.
            If you find that your faith was crushed when someone fell off of the pedestal that you put them on, let God search your heart.  Let Him examine your ability to forgive.  Let Him help you figure out why forgiveness and understanding and grace and compassion toward that fallen person is so hard for you. 

            Psalm 139:23-24:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
            Mark 11:25:  “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  
            Matthew 6:14-15:  “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” 
            Matthew 5:23-24:  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” 

            Most likely, you don’t want to be this way.  But it could be that their fall (or your own) crushed your heart, made you feel vulnerable or hopeless, sucked the life out of you, etc.  Oftentimes, we are not consciously being unforgiving or too harsh.  It’s just that we needed something to believe in, someone to believe in.  (Or we needed to be that person to someone else.)  And when they (or we) fell, it left us floundering, looking for something solid to plant our feet on or to give us hope and joy again.
            But we need to remember that only God, only Jesus, can really be that solid foundation for us.  We need to find our joy and hope in Him alone.  We need to find our fulfillment in Him alone. 
            And we need to remember that we humans are all pilgrims on this journey through life.  We all walk on level ground.  None of us float through life in mid-air or sit high up on a pedestal carried by others.  (Besides, you can’t lean on people who are on a pedestal.  So the less people there are on pedestals, the more people there are right next to us to lean on and to help support us when times get tough.)
            Be gentle and compassionate with others when they fall and with yourself when you fall.  We will all let someone else down at some point.  We will all be wrong at some point.  We will all be weak at some point and need others to help us stand.  And we will all need to be forgiven at some point and welcomed back with open arms.  If God can do that for us, surely we can do it for each other!

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