I’d like to say that the lessons God shows me come to me quickly and clearly all the time. However, most of the time, I’m a little slow to the party. Mostly I am just happy that they come at all. This last week was a bit of a challenge. Let’s just say that sometimes family can be hard to handle. Thank you, Captain Obvious. My pastor says that unless you can point to the crazy in your family, you probably are the crazy in your family. Well, luckily, I can point to the crazy in my family.
Dealing with crazy can make even the sanest among us a little bonkers. I wanted to do the right thing for all involved last week, but doing the right thing for all seemed impossible. Taking care of some meant not taking care of someone else. I’m a nurse by training, we take care of people. I’m a follower of Jesus. We take care of people, too. So not taking care of someone pushed all my guilty buttons.
Here’s the lesson I learned about three days too late:
Conviction is not the same as guilt.
You see, I was feeling a whole heap of guilt. Was there more I should or could do? What about what I had done, what that the right thing? And I was reminded that the devil will use scripture against us. He did that to Jesus in the wilderness.
Three times. You can go see for yourself in Matthew 4:1-11. Three times, the devil used scripture to tempt Jesus into sin. He didn’t want Jesus to be able to be the spotless sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world.
For three days, the enemy tempted me with scripture. Wasn’t this person among the “least of these”? I mean “who is your neighbor” anyway? Isn’t she your neighbor? Isn’t she among the least of these?
In time, I was able to hear Him. Before, I was busy running around screaming that the world was on fire, and that the sky was falling. I’m not proud of that… but I’m trying to be honest here. I was so busy listening to what the devil was saying, I failed to hear what the Lord was quietly trying to say.
When Jesus left the earth to go be with the Father until His return again, he told us he would send us a Helper. He sent us the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that has the power to convict us. Conviction is not guilt. There is no shame in conviction. There is only loving correction. I spent three days running around feeling guilty. All along, the Lord was quietly taking care of the situation. When it all finally did resolve, I was able to sit still long enough to hear.
I realize now that I was being manipulated by that family member, and by the devil. I know now that the guilt I felt was the same old trick he always uses. Our enemy has no new tricks. He speaks the language of lies, and he is good at it. (John 8:44)
So I apologized to the Lord for lending my ear to my enemy instead of listening for His voice. I’m sure a few more hairs on my head turned gray last week, but I’ve learned my lesson, for now.
For those who like to use guilt as a motivator, just remember you are using a tool of the devil. If you want to motivate someone, simply speak truth into their lives and allow the Holy Spirit time and room to convict them.
The end result is so much sweeter.