Ok. Here’s the honest reason this post is so late. I’ve had in my head for days. But it has been a battle of courage to post.
God gave me this scripture passage recently.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
(Proverbs 9 ESV)
Such a fascinating passage for me. Although the translations vary greatly in word choice (for example, words used for “reprove” in other translations: rebuke (NIV), reason with (MSG), correct (NLT). Words used for “scoffer” in other translations: mocker (NIV and others), arrogant cynic (MSG)), I don’t struggle to understand the meaning: wise people receive criticism gracefully.
Recently it has felt like we have made one mistake, bumble or blunder after another. I feel like we look like fools to everyone we meet, particularly those with whom we’re sharing our ministry. At low moments, it has felt like I am foolish even before God.
When God was calling us to missions, I prayed often that I would learn to walk in the Spirit like I never had before. I asked God to give me wisdom and discernment in areas I had never considered needing it. I sought to make all my decisions by consulting the Lord first. My desire was threefold: I wanted confirmation of my calling at every turn, I didn’t want to waste a moment that God might use to prepare or bring us to the mission field, and I wanted to be an example to those watching of what it means to walk in the Spirit.
James tells us that God answers every prayer for wisdom. I can see a growth in my life in this area of wisdom and spirit-led thinking. And yet this month I have struggled greatly with feeling stupid, unequipped, unqualified; feeling like I have misunderstood God, misunderstood my role; and wondering if I can trust what I believe God has said to me.
So far we’ve handled criticism with grace. I wouldn’t say we have loved it, but we’ve seen the value and adjusted and made amends as best we can. Others have extended grace to us as well. And I am extending grace to myself, as I know my Heavenly Father does. These feelings of insecurity are probably from the enemy. A wise mentor advised me to write down the messages I believe God has given me that I am doubting and count the ways He has confirmed Himself. So I am working on that, and repeating Galatians 1:10 to myself. The first verse I ever memorized.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? For if I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Jesus Christ approves me because of Who He is and what He did. He is creating a new creature in me and the metamorphosis is hard, but worth it.