Just helpers: making sure we don’t become the problem
When the kids were little, I tried to let them help in the kitchen as often as possible, but when the outcome really counted—guests were coming over, I was baking for orders, there was a dessert auction, etc.—I usually took care of things by myself.
Why? The kids meant well, but they didn’t have the knowledge, experience, or skill set to do what needed to be done.
When the stakes were a little lower, I used those opportunities to let them practice. Then, if/when they mastered a skill, I let them do things on their own and help me even when the outcome mattered. Even so, I kept a watchful eye and sometimes had to take over to make sure things turned out the way they needed to.
Jesus did the same with His apostles during His earthly ministry (Matthew 17:19-20; Luke 9:1-17; 10:1-23), and God does the same with His children today (Philippians 2:13; Romans 12:6-8).
Lately, though, it seems like a whole bunch of God’s kids have snuck into His kitchen and started doing things they aren’t ready to do yet, things He never asked of them. On social media, it seems they are overstepping and running ahead at the expense of things He did tell them to do.
Not only is this annoying. It’s potentially harmful!
Before any of us do anything more, we should probably ask ourselves some questions. The following are a good start:
Who told me to say the things I’ve been saying: me, someone else, or God? Am I absolutely sure?
Whose favor/approval am I seeking?
Is my goal to curate a public image or advance God’s kingdom for His glory?
Are my words full of God’s wisdom or my own?
What do I feel when I speak/post: pride or compassion?
Are my attempts at wit costing others?
Am I discussing in public something that should be handled in private?
Am I setting others up for failure in my mind by asking them for something they cannot provide via the medium I’ve chosen?
Am I defending what God would not?
Am I making fun or light of what God would not?
Am I holding on to words I know God told me to speak?
Do my words encourage and correct the Bride of Christ or publicly shame Her?
Do I offer solutions or simply keep conflict stirred?
Am I slandering individuals by blaming large groups of people for the misdeeds of one or some?
Is the Holy Spirit using me to reveal God’s grace and mercy to the lost, or is the Enemy using me to give them the false impression that God and His Church are against them?
Am I giving people with questions about their faith permission and space to think and process, or am I reinforcing their doubts and alienating them by responding in fear or anger?
Is my tone sincere and humble or arrogant and aggressive?
Are my words and tone appropriate and helpful for every individual that might see or hear them?
Am I processing and responding to actual words spoken or assuming meaning and intention where it was not expressly communicated?
Am I more concerned with my own comfort or the salvation of others?
Am I practicing forgiveness and building bridges or holding grudges and preventing reconciliation and healing?
Do my words offer hope, or do they condemn?
Am I responding in love to those who consider me an enemy?
Do my words communicate confidence in God’s sovereignty, power, and faithfulness, or do they give the false impression all is lost?
Feeling pretty good about your answers? Awesome!
The apostle Paul felt good about his ministry, too, but he was also mindful of his shortcomings (Romans 7:15-25), his inability to detect sin in his own life (1 Corinthians 4:4), and the need to actively pursue obedience so he wouldn’t slide back into old patterns of sin (1 Corinthians 9:27). In all things, he submitted to God’s scrutiny and considered the opportunity to repent a gift of grace (2 Timothy 2:25).
God grants us the privilege of participating in His plan to redeem the world for His glory, but He never intended for us to take things into our own hands. The stakes are way too high for that!
So let’s make sure we only say and do what He tells us to say and do and that we say and do those things in the right spirit for the right reason. That’s all Jesus did (John 5:19; John 12:49), and He changed everything for eternity.
Why in the world would we presume more autonomy than He? After all, Jesus is God (Romans 9:5). We’re just helpers.