Read His Words Before Ours!
To love is to commit to paying a costly price.
To love is to commit to messy, broken relationships.
To love is to commit to being hurt.
The on-ramp to safe isolation, far away from great cost, mess, brokenness, and excruciating pain?
Well, I’ll let you decide.
Surely, there are other, more clear symptoms of isolation and lack of love, right?
Traits like anger, bitterness, and hatred seem pretty key in a successful journey to isolation.
True, these traits are clear evidences of having lived a life in attempt to keep a heart safe from the costly effects of love, but these are destination signposts, not on-ramps.
One who is perpetually angry, bitter, and hateful has already succeeded in staying away from love.
There is the attractive little signpost flashing brilliantly along a benign highway, promising a quick detour to safety and self-justification.
“Just a little rudeness,” the lie begins.
“Just a little self-protection.”
“You deserve, no, you have a right, to be rude.”
One sweet little sampling of lies after another and our quick detour lands us far off course, well on our way to Isolation.
Not sure you believe me?
I present you with a true story….
A widely respected, deeply kind, and exceptionally humble man had been given the opportunity for a highly visible leadership position, despite his genuine objections. He had no desire for power or profit, but was compelled to take the position out of love and respect for authority above him.
While he made some mistakes, he genuinely loved the people he led, and continually sacrificed his own good for their own. From the outside, it was plainly obvious what a rare, and incredible leader this man was.
Like any leadership role, it came with its share of criticisms and complaints directed towards him, but the one to whom he reported was constantly watching his back. Often, the man overlooked the negativity, not allowing it to deter him from his strong, gentle leadership. Other times, it drove him absolutely batty to the point of near insanity, but always the one above him, protected him.
The man was in this specific leadership role for over 40 years and there was no end to complaints filed against him as he was constantly under attack for his extremely difficult position. Curiously, the records of his career carefully chronicle one specific incident out of the mass lump sum.
One incident with incredible detail.
One incident of blatant rudeness.
Ending with isolation.
The man had a deeply devoted sister whom he loved, but she was beginning to feel as if she deserved some of leadership’s limelight. Unlike her honorable brother, she wanted the attention and the power. She saw the neon flashing lights on the highway and she exited onto “Rude”. She tossed a handful of caustic words in the air, feeling quite justified. Her words were seemingly harmlessly, but undeniably drenched in rudeness. Her rudeness was heard and felt. As a result, she found herself granted a personal audience with the one in authority who had heard her curt remarks.
And it wasn’t pretty.
I’ll let you listen in…
“Listen to what I say:
If there is a prophet among you from the Lord,
I make myself known to him in a vision;
I speak with him in a dream.
Not so with my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my household.
I speak with him directly,
openly, and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
So why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
The Lord’s anger burned against them, and He left. (Numbers 12:6-9, emphasis added)
Sister Miriam’s words were intended to hurt. She wanted to make her point known. She set out to amplify her perspective even if it cost her being just a bit rude in order to justify her position against a man who was not only her leader, but also her brother.
The Lord heard, He saw her heart of arrogance, He felt her rudeness, and called her out on it. He took up the cause of Moses, fighting on his behalf, because God is a just and loving God. When it was all said and done, the Lord’s presence left Miriam and her sympathizing brother, Aaron, alone. What’s more, the Lord also gave Miriam a skin disease as He left her as further consequence of her rudeness. Moses, the loving leader, pleaded with the Lord for healing on behalf of his sister, which the Lord gave, but He also said, “If her father had merely spit in her face (as a consequence), wouldn’t she remain in disgrace for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp (as a consequence to her rudeness) for seven days; after that she may come back.” (Numbers 12:14)
Her rudeness was disgraceful.
Her rudeness was not loving.
Her rudeness was sinful.
Her rudeness brought isolation.
Miriam took the easy exit off the highway of genuine, authentic Love, and she ended up alone.
How often I’ve done the same!
Rudeness is like an arrow jutting into the people around us. (Proverbs 12:18)
The Lord is a God of unconditional love.
He is a triune God who Himself dwells eternally in community.
Isolation and rudeness have no place in His character,
and neither do they in ours as we take on the Name of Christ.
Maybe you can identify scenarios where you tend to take that quick trip to Isolation via the on-ramp of rudeness. Maybe you can identify people you’ve alienated or perhaps you’ve become familiar with that sense of distancing you feel when you choose to be rude.
Or maybe, just maybe, you know someone who habitually takes that glittery exit called Rude. You see them isolating themselves.
In fact, you want to be isolated from them because of their sharp, cutting habits.
But, I wonder, what if the Lord intended for you to love them with His love, drawing them back just as He did with Miriam. Just as He does for me when I’m rude, again and again.
Suppose He is equipping us to love those who are rude, and to stand at that exit sign,
pointing the way back to Love?!
To love another is worth the high price it will cost us.
It’s worth the mess.
it’s worth the pain of entering into the brokenness.
How do I know?
Jesus did it for me.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!