Although a true incident, all revealing facts and names in this story have been changed.
“If you’re thinking, ‘How can we get through to him, get him to see that his trouble is all his own fault?’ Forget it. Start worrying about yourselves. Worry about your own sins and God’s coming judgment, for judgment is most certainly on the way.” (Job 19:28-29 THE MESSAGE)
Sam’s feet, which were pounding the pavement with much more force than necessary, were living witness to the raging emotions in his heart. Who was this Adam anyway, to barge into his Sunday School class and criticize his members?
He entered the backstretch of his run, the stretch where he usually let his running partner, a young black lab, run free. This was the favorite part of the run for both of them, but today, the fact that the lab had dropped behind to sniff at something only further aggravated Sam’s already raw emotions. He looked back over his shoulder. “Get over here,” he shouted. But deep inside, he had to wonder if what the dog was doing REALLY merited the harsh tone of voice . . . Fortunately, the dog recognized his master’s angry tone as one that meant “obey-NOW”, and he came.
Sam’s feet struck the dirt road with renewed vigor. Why had he yelled at the dog? But he pushed it out of his mind. After all, there were more important things to think about-like how to let this belligerent person know, beyond a doubt, that he had to stop judging these people! God was working on each on of them in His own time and in His own way! They didn’t need to be criticized continually by anyone!
Sam gave a decided nod of his head as he put together his plan of action: He would call Adam as soon as he got home and tell him what he thought!
He fought off the urge to stop short. He recognized the voice; but he wasn’t in any mood to hear what it had to say.
This didn’t discourage God, however: “Sam, aren’t you treating Adam the same way he treats the members of your Sunday School class? And by the way, have you forgotten that this isn’t YOUR Sunday School class?”
Choosing to ignore the last half of that statement, Sam prepared his argument: “Adam’s a seasoned believer, Lord. These other people are babes in Christ! They’ll be turned off by such blatant criticism! What they need is a gentler approach! They need to be loved and nurtured; they need us to pray for them, not criticize them!”
“And Adam doesn’t need to be loved and nurtured? He needs criticism instead of prayer?”
Sam sighed. God was right as usual. God had taught him over and over again that trying to change people got him nowhere, but releasing them to God was the only way. It was a lesson he was currently using to its maximum within his Sunday School class . . . “But . . .”
“No buts, Sam!” Came the aggravating response. “He’s no different than the rest!”
Sam gave a resigned sigh. He wouldn’t make that call; but oh, how he wanted to give this belligerent Adam a piece of his mind!
And Sam didn’t make that call; but he continued to lecture Adam in his mind for the next two days. Until one day God again spoke: “If you’re thinking, ‘How can we get through to him, get him to see that his trouble is all his own fault?’ Forget it. Start worrying about yourselves. Worry about your own sins and God’s coming judgment, for judgment is most certainly on the way.” (Job 19:28-29 THE MESSAGE)
OUCH! “But I have to do SOMETHING Lord!” Sam complained. “What do You want me to do instead?”
The answer was immediate in coming: “Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.” (Matt 13:12-13 THE MESSAGE)
Suddenly Sam understood. It wasn’t by lecturing that he could make a change. It was by handing Adam over to God. It was by being open to God’s leading, and through the use of Spirit-led stories and personal testimonies (which is the approach he was already using with his Sunday School class!) That Adam would change.
Friends, are there any Adams in your life? Squelch the urge to lecture them into changing their ways. Instead, pray for them. Ask God to help them grasp onto the truth of Job 19:28. And if you say anything at all, let it be Spirit-led for both timing and content, using both stories and personal testimonies so that the Spirit of God can create readiness and nudge them toward receptive insight.