Monday, November 16, 2015
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It was always so much fun when we stuffed all five Hutchcrafts into the car for a long trip. And, of course, we had turf wars in the back seat. You remember that? Especially as our kids became bigger. We had three kids trying to figure out who gets which third or more, of the turf in the back seat. Of course that was only one of our problems.
After we'd been driving for awhile, we'd often hear these unsettling sounds emanating from the back seat. Our daughter was prone to needing some air and space back there, and it happened when she was stuck in the middle. And she began to experience discomfort and started letting out soft moans. Her brothers would imitate those noises, of course more loudly and more obnoxious. She couldn't help it! She had a touch of claustrophobia. "Come on, guys! She needed some space."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Life-Changing Equation For the People You Love."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 4:2, and Paul talks about different ways we might go about trying to get people to change. Can you think of anybody you want to change? Okay. He says, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction."
Now what he's talking about here is approaching people who need to change. You've probably got somebody like that in your life. Like somebody you're married to? One of your children? A friend? Somebody at church? "Oh yeah, I've got somebody who needs to change." Well, here's how Paul says to go about it. You give them the truth, you encourage, you exhort, you correct, you rebuke when you need to, but then be prepared to wait. He says to do this with patience. They're not going to change right away.
So, the life-changing equation goes something like this: Truth plus space equals a changed life. Now, our daughter, in that back seat, needed some space. That might be what the person in your life who you want to change, might be what they need. You've been after them a lot, maybe nagging them. You know what? They need some space, and that's the hard part. You told them what's right. You told them what the Bible says about it, but now you've got to give them some space to choose it.
That person you love, maybe they're suffering from emotional or spiritual claustrophobia, because you've chased them too much. See, if they don't respond right away, we're like, "See, they didn't listen!" So we hammer them again and again, and what we're probably doing is making the change take even longer and making their resistance even stronger.
Here's another equation: Truth plus pressure equals rebellion. See, we're afraid we're losing the person and our fear comes out as nagging and pressure, but here's how the life-changing process works. You give the person the truth on that issue, then you allow them the dignity and the space to choose it for themselves. Leave them some room. They're not just going to throw up their hands, raise the white flag and say, "I'm wrong. You're right." Back off, and let them decide. See, maybe you've given them the truth, but no space, and so you're getting rebellion. Paul's words, "do it with great patience."
Here's an even better equation: Truth plus space plus prayer equals a changed life, because while you're giving them space and while you're waiting to see what they do with the truth, (and maybe biting your nails about it) you're on your knees talking to God about them, more than you're talking to them about God. Maybe you could just say to the Lord, "Lord I've done my best, now please do the rest."
I like what Ruth Graham said about Billy Graham, she said, "You know, it's my job to love Billy, it's God's job to change him." Well it's God's job to change that person. You love them, you tell them the truth, and then leave some space for God to do the changing.