I suppose that parenting and teaching clichés will never go away, even the ones that we all promised ourselves we would never use. I can remember telling myself that I would never say “because I said so,” but try as I might, my four year old still manages to get that one out of me every once in a while.
I can still remember the internal groan of resentment every time a teacher would answer the common request regarding use of the restroom with the tried and true, “I don’t know can you?” Yet, when I found myself in a classroom setting as the instructor, I shamefully found glee in applying the same response to my own students.
I am sure you have a few of those quips, sayings, and occasional truisms from your childhood that you can remember.
“If your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?”
“We aren’t everyone else’s parents!”
I could go on and on.
However, despite my chagrin at having heard them so much, they all had a measure of truth to them. Some of them resonate well past childhood and still can teach us something today.
We spend so much time pointing at others that we often fail to see the fault that belongs to us
One saying that comes to mind is “When you are pointing at someone else, four fingers are pointing back at you.”
No matter how much you may have tried to get around who ever said that to you (typically by trying to point with the whole hand karate chop style), you cannot escape the truth of the underlying principle. We spend so much time pointing at others that we often fail to see the fault that belongs to us.
The same is true when we pray. Think about it. We often go to prayer asking God to make changes. Changes to our health, our finances, our bosses, our spouses, our cars, our weather, and on and on it goes. We want God to change everything. Everything, that is, except us.
God, my marriage is struggling change my spouse. My church is in trouble change the other members. Things on the job aren’t going well, change my coworker. Yet, look at your hand as you point. The vote is in. 3 fingers to 1. You just might be the problem.
I can not help but notice the model prayer Jesus left for us.
Matthew 6:9–13 (NKJV)
9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Read that prayer. There is praise. There is submission. There is supplication. There is prayer for forgiveness. There is a desire for protection. However there is NOT ONE mention of changing someone else.
In fact the only mention of the wrongs of others is not about changing nor punishing them, but rather us forgiving those who have wronged us is spoken of as a given.
So here is my challenge for the day. Instead of venting and complaining about the situation, and the actions of others, ask God what could be changed in you that might help things. Instead of asking God to change everyone else, ask Him to reveal what needs to be changed in you.
You just might be surprised what you learn about yourself.