Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
I will be the first to admit I have validation issues…O.K., maybe not the first to admit it, but I do get to that admission eventually. 🙂 What other people think of me probably matters more to me than it should…words of affirmation are definitely how I feel loved (thank you, Gary Chapman). Add to that my (mostly-healthy) competitive nature and then stir in my very American-public-school-achievement orientation, and you have a recipe for a man who is all about constantly assessing his successes versus his failures. It is important to me. Maybe it is important to you too.
I measure everything. I measure my case load and my billings at work. I measure my workouts and my sleep hours at home. I measure my quality time spent with my wife and with my daughters (never enough). I measure the conferences and speaking engagements I do, the writing time I have, the churches with whom I consult, and the budget dollars in my ministry. I measure the attendance in The Gathering, and my teaching time there. I measure my readership, my “hits”, my “click-throughs” and my subscriptions to this blog. I am always assessing and reassessing and measuring the success and/or failure of all these endeavors. I’ll bet you do as well.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
There is a very simple explanation for why so many people outside the church accuse the church of being full of hypocrites…why people who profess to be Christians often appear to talk one way, but walk an entirely different way. It is because it is absolutely true.
I learned some time ago that knowing the Bible does not make me a better follower of Christ, and in fact, does not really change me at all. I can attend church every Sunday, attend small group every Monday night and discuss in great depth what I believe this scripture means or that scripture means…I can listen to Christian radio all day long and can subscribe to podcasts of my favorite preachers…I can read my Bible every day…I can graduate from Seminary with advanced knowledge in Greek and Hebrew…I can do all these things, but if I am only a knower of God’s Word but do not become a doer of God’s Word, I am the biggest hypocrite of all. And I am not changing for the better.
In The Gathering, which happens to be the class I have the privilege of teaching on Sunday mornings, we talk about each of us having a “next step” to take toward God. No matter where we are in our faith walk, from the strongest athiest to the most mature believer, we each have a next step to take. Scripture teaches us what that next step looks like. The same passage of scripture may show one next step for you and another entirely different next step for me. That is the beauty and the power of God’s Word. But in every case, taking that “next …