Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Forgotten Commandment

Last Sunday, the lesson I taught to the 1st-5th graders at Vineyard was about the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). I struggled in my attempt to clarify this metaphorical passage for the kids, but I knew that their little hearts would understand in time. Afterward, Blake and I started talking about the parable in adult terms.

Is the Bible saying not to share the gospel with certain people? The passage refers to four types of soil/people, three of them being unable to fully understand, appreciate, and live out the gospel. In the parable, only the seed that fell on good soil came to any fruition. Does that mean the other seed was wasted, or is some of it a part of a person's growing process? There are many times the gospel was shared with me, and I ignored it, or got hyped up and lost it, or was deterred by the "worries of this life" (v. 22). But, all of those moments led me to where and who I am now in Christ. All of those times when people's words seem to have gone to waste, God used them for good.

Then, Blake reminded me of a commandment that I have forgotten, and disobeyed. Matthew 7:6, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

A few years ago, I had a prophetic dream regarding a loved one. The dream was a response to many prayers and came during a very tumultuous time in this person's life. I sat with the dream for a couple of weeks, trying to decide whether or not I needed to share it with him. The message in the dream was a very encouraging one, basically a scene of 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!". I thought the message was uplifting, and ultimately decided to pour out my heart in a letter and mail it. I did my best to communicate my heart, to show that I was for him and not against him, to show that I loved him and supported him.

It didn't take long for me to find out that this was probably the worst thing I could have done. I was so upset, so angry, and so disappointed at what happened after he received the letter. What I thought was a prompting to overcome fear, was actually God pulling at me, declaring Matthew 7:6 over me. It wasn't time. In the end, I got reprimanded from another family member for "daring" to do such a thing. This person has since called me many names to his family and mine, and has barely spoken to me since. It has caused a rift not only in our relationship, but also in the relationships I have with some of my other family members. How could I have been so blind? How could I have ignored one of God's most blatant warnings?

What I did not know at the time was that the good news I attempted to share with him was eaten up by the hatefulness of Satan. The good seed of encouragement I was spreading was stolen from the person I was trying to share it with. The good news I wanted so desperately to communicate was seen through the eyes of a person whose heart was not yet prepared. He wasn't ready for what I had to say.

By throwing out this beautiful dream and powerful message at the wrong time, the message lost its value. To throw a string of pearls into a pigpen is degrading to the value of the pearls. Pigs don't understand what pearls are; they have no concept of jewelry or precious stones. Instead of being a message of hope and God's sovereignty, the word I shared was seen as garbage. A delusion, a word of condemnation. Jesus spoke in parables (often very confusing), and responded to "Why?" with this: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." (Matthew 13:12) He goes on to say that those who do not understand are the fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10.

Is this to say that the message God gave me will go to waste? Absolutely not. It may not have the effect on the person as I feel God originally intended, but the experience has already been a great lesson in my life. Maybe in time, this person will see how much the Lord cares for Him and how much He has promised. This experience has taught me that there are times to wait. There are times to hold back, and let God work for a time. There are times to risk it all, and times to be cautious. There are times to fight, and times to be at peace. There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:7, "...a time to be silent and a time to speak."

God is cautiously steering me through this journey of reestablishing what has been lost. I don't know if what was broken will ever be reconciled, and my heart still hurts deeply when I think about what I have done. I know that God is working on behalf of His kingdom and that He can plow through my mistakes. Romans 8:28 offers the promise, "In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." God is not going to let the message He gave me go to waste.

The words God gives us are not always meant for us to share immediately, and we have to be so in touch with His Spirit to know when and where to scatter the seed. Not to say that we shouldn't share the gospel in fear of persecution, but we must be guided first and foremost by the Spirit, not looking for any self-inflicted persecution. To know Christ is to suffer (Phil. 3:10), but even Christ lived out periods of waiting. Sometimes the Spirit says "go," and sometimes He says "wait." It takes a great deal of faith to wait, a great deal of faith to listen, and a great deal of faith to hold on to His promises in the midst of the feelings of failure.

Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

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