Lying. Manipulation. Deception. Theft. Cheating. Forgery. Explicit imagery.
Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty eventful couple of weeks at school. Life as a Vice Principal is never boring. I could easily split up each of these events (and yes, each term applies to a separate event) and rattle off the fun I’ve had dealing with these teenagers. I could sit here and tell you how I whipped each of them with the rod of discipline. Wouldn’t it make a great story if I told you every one of them thanked me to no end with the wisdom I imparted to them? How I’m so amazing in how I walked each one through corrective behavioral therapy and now their lives are changed forever! But let’s get real. The sin and shortcomings of each of the students that ended up in my office have taught me so much more than anything I imparted to them.
The impact of whatever I had to say to these kids may not ever be known. The “fruit” to be seen in their lives, post-discipline, may not come to fruition until I am long gone, or after they graduate and move on. Ultimately, I’m okay with that. The interesting thing that hit me this past weekend is something I’m coming to grips with more and more.
Other’s sin has become a mirror to my own failure.
The more and more I sit and talk with these students on a daily basis, more and more I’m made aware of how much I’ve failed God in my own life. Please understand, this is not an attack against the wretched refuse that is spilled in my office. This is not to say that I am “holier than thou”. I, in no way sit above and look down with righteous indignation upon these lowly peasants. If anything, these situations allow me to sympathize with these heathens. Why? Because I am one of them.
I too am a lying-manipulative-deceptive-thieving-forging-cheat who has made multiple bad decisions in my lifetime. I am no better off than the students who I see. The only difference? I’m older. Only by God’s grace am I in a position to walk them through their situations because I’ve been there before. I have first-hand knowledge of God’s grace that I so badly want them to see. Everything about me wants to show them what Christ’s death on the cross and ultimate victory over that death means to each of them!
There have been so many times in my life that I’ve been held accountable for what I’ve done wrong. And to this day, I’m eternally grateful for each gut-wrenching time I’ve sat in the principal’s office or in front of my parents, having my sin laid out in front of me. There are also some things that I’ve gotten away with, from the world’s perspective. Yet I know that there is One who knows and will most definitely hold me accountable. Ahhh, the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit saying, “You know that was wrong, right?!”
I never, ever want to be the person that keeps their lips closed when I can do some one else the favor of exposing their sin. I am called to this purpose. God’s message to us is so powerfully life changing, but in order for anyone to get that message, we need to be willing to speak the truth. Just about every single time I’m speaking to a student about what they’ve done wrong, I always try to enter my name in to the conversation. I do this because I too have offended God by the way I’ve lived my life. It’s only right to walk with someone through their hurt and conviction. To let them know they are not alone. Loneliness is the worst place to be. Keep this in mind:
As Christians, we’re simply just a beggar showing other beggars where to find food.
One of the most hard-hitting things I’ve heard in recent years, outside of scripture is this:
“I don’t care what they did to you. Nor how much it gets to you. Regardless of who disrespected, rejected, or neglected you. Slept with you and sexually transmitted disease infected you. No matter who, what, where, when, why, or how they spiritually or physically molested you, raped you, betrayed you, spit in your face just to show you how much they hate. Despite what they did against you, if you take two seconds and think about how you’ve offended God, it should make you understand how much you deserve death just as much as they do.” ~ Ezekiel Azonwu, Silence is Deadly
Anyone of us, at any time, can be extremely quick to point fingers and ridicule those who are simply sinning in a different way than we are (AKA, the Pharisee mentality). Christians, please keep in mind that we are absolutely allowed to judge others when we see them sinning and living contrary to God’s Word (Galatians 6:1). Only God judges the heart, but we can definitely see and hear someone’s character, integrity, and actions in how they are living their life in accordance with God’s Word. However, never for a second should you think yourself better than they. Never are you to think that you are higher, mightier, holier than they. We ALL have sinned and have fallen way short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Our purpose is to help each other abide in the Lord (1 John 3:15-18).
Are you going to be the Priest who walks by those dying on the roadside? Or are you going to be the Good Samaritan, who set aside his own agenda to help bring life to someone in need. The challenge in all this is to open up your heart and speak. Speak the truth of God’s love. Speak when the Holy Spirit prompts you. Speak life in to those around you. Speak in love, not condemning (Romans 8:1). At all times, remember that you represent Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20,21). Speak in love, biblical truth, and compassion. In so doing, we present the grace of Jesus Christ.
Grace is not a band-aid for temporary relief and protection against future infection. Do not pat someone on the back and tell them everything’s going to be all right. If we don’t repent of our sins, turn from our evil ways, and commit our lives to Christ, death awaits us! I see grace as our wheelchair, our stretcher, our prosthetic that keeps us going despite our disabilities. We know that we are spiritually handicapped without Jesus. That doesn’t mean life is over. It means we use what we do have for the benefit of those around us. In all of our weaknesses, we are strong!
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Rak Chazak, and may the Lord bless you and give you opportunities today to impact someone’s life for His kingdom, for His glory! Amen.
Related post: Sorry Francis, but it’s time to use words