A great friend of mine told me a story that took place in her family recently. Her ten-year-old son confessed to having said the word “crap” during a flag football game. She told her son that it was not a good word to say, and to try not to say it anymore. Her son responded by saying that he heard his dad say it all the time. My friend told me she tries not to be the Holy Spirit to her husband, but that she did decide to mention it to him. He didn’t realize that he said the word so often. When he was discussing this with their son he mentioned other words that were just not so good to say, like dang and shoot. (these are just terrible people) His son piped up and said, “Mom says shoot.” So a deal had to be struck. If dad had to quit saying “crap” then mom had to quit saying “shoot”. If this were allowed to continue, they’d be saying words like “fiddlesticks” soon. Potty mouths…
I loved this story, but what struck me the most about it was not the humor of it. It was when my friend told me that she tries not to be the Holy Spirit to her husband. I have such smart friends. I have thought this over many times since she first told me this little story of her sweet family. How often do I try to play the role of the Holy Spirit in my husband’s life, or my children’s? If I am honest it’s probably pretty often. After all, time is of the essence and sometimes the Holy Spirit just doesn’t understand this. He needs my help.
There are things my husband should be doing that he’s not, or shouldn’t be doing that he is, and it is my duty as a good wife to make him aware of these things, isn’t it? Isn’t that what being a good helpmate is all about? Helping him be the best husband, father, son, employee, Christian that he can be? And what about my kids? Doesn’t any self-respecting mother want their kids to be all God intends them to be? This can soon become a full time job. Helping someone become all God intends them to be is taxing.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ruth Graham. She was once asked how she helped Billy be such a good minister. Her response was this,
“It’s my job to love Billy, it’s God’s job to make Billy good.”
Sometimes that’s so hard. To love someone even while you can see those things that need improving. Most women are fixers. We think we know how things are supposed to be. Only when we go about trying to make those corrections in others, we come off as condemning the very one we desire to help. Somehow, in some way that is only holy, the Holy Spirit can work on a person and never cause them to feel that condemnation.
It’s why we are far less resistant to change when the impetus comes from the Holy Spirit. I know when someone tries to point out one of my few flaws (grin) my first response isn’t to consider what they are saying, my first response is to become defensive and resentful. But I never feel that when the Holy Spirit is prompting a change in my heart. I feel regret, and then freedom to change. God does not condemn those who are in Christ Jesus, so there’s none of that coming from the Holy Spirit. Only a profound love for us.
So often my motivation in seeking change in the ones I love is selfish. I want what I want from them. I want them to be the way I want them to be. But perhaps what I want doesn’t line up with what God wants for them. It’s not who God wants them to be. I love the line from the Steven Curtis Chapman song that says, “God is God. And I am not.”
So what should my response be when I see things that need to change in those I love? Honestly, my first response should be to pray. The first person I take my concerns to should be the Lord. Always. And then, as my grandmother used to say,
“Wait on the Lord”.
Not go to that person and wag an accusing finger. Wait. Great things happen when we pray and wait. They just don’t always happen on our timetable. God has a plan, and he is not required to reveal it to us. Another interesting thing happens when we pray. Sometimes we change, but only if we are open to the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Remember the woman who was caught in adultery? Those men were armed and ready to stone her for her sin. That is, until Jesus pointed out their own flaws to them. Then they dropped their stones, and one by one walked away. Jesus then asked her where her condemners were? She replied by saying no one was left to condemn her. Then Jesus said a most wonderful thing. “Neither then, do I condemn you.”
See? No condemnation. Jesus had intervened, shown her where she was wrong, and forgiven her. He did command her to change, but she received it in the love and grace in which it was given. Only God can do that.