The Crime I Bet You’re Guilty of Committing (Yes, you!)

Are there people in your life who need to change?

Would you like them to change faster?

Today, my little nephew, Norman, pointed his stick “gun” at me and announced, “You have been eliminated!” It reminded me of a time when my son was his age. I was nagging him about something. Zack picked up the TV remote, swirled around, aimed it at me, and announced, “I change you!”

Five minutes later, he was wishing he had thought twice about that move but the image remained with me. I’m a little too old for stick guns and imaginary remote devices but I often use my words to communicate exactly what these boys were saying, “I don’t like you the way you are. You must change or be eliminated.”

We all need to change. That’s pretty much the basis of the gospel. Something is wrong with each of us. We can be forgiven and granted access to God through Jesus Christ but then, out of love for Him, we must submit to the process of change.

Have you ever noticed how other people don’t seem to change fast enough?

I frequently come under the delusion that God has assigned me to help the people in my life to change faster. Perhaps, I think, they haven’t consulted with God about themselves, as I have. Perhaps they are unaware how offensive they are to those around them. I’m sure God would be happy for me to speed up their process, wouldn’t He?

Not so much.

Busybodies are as old as the church, apparently, because Peter addresses us in I Peter 4:14-16 this way, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

The King James Version replaces the word “meddler” with “busybody in other men’s matters.” That’s right. Meddling is listed right there beside murderers, thieves and other criminals. Ouch.

Can you imagine if it had been a meddler on the other cross beside Jesus rather than a thief? She’d probably still be trying to shout instructions and to fix people with her last breath from there.

People really do need to change but I have to say from personal experience with the Almighty that He’s a great fan of “the long way.” I mean, if anyone could pick up a giant cosmic remote control device and change any of us, then He could. So speedy change is obviously not high on his priority scale.

God loves the long walk, the meandering journey, the unexpected pathway to growth. He is completely immune to my demands that He move faster to change the people who annoy me and I’m sure they’re praying fairly fast and furiously back at Him about my slow-growth issues.

So, is there nothing I can do?

Paul began his letters to churches reminding them that he always prayed for them. Paul must have seen areas in everyone around him that needed to change. I’m sure with the urgency of the new church, Paul wanted it to happen quickly, too. But he spends as much time (or more) in intercession as he does in preaching and writing.

Sometimes I wonder if all those shipwrecks and imprisonments of Paul were God’s way of sending him to the sidelines to pray so he didn’t wear himself out with trying to fix everyone himself.

Has God sidelined you recently? Pay attention. Maybe He’s trying to remind you that He is meant to do the heavy lifting when it comes to changing others. Tell Him what you see and what you want for others and then step back and watch Him work. If He invites you in, He’ll make it clear, but otherwise, busy your body in your own affairs!

Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to farming. He says, “He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29.

If you try to get a plant to grow faster by yanking on it, you uproot the whole affair. That can happen with people, too, which is why meddling ranks right up there with crime in the kingdom of God!

Are you tempted to pick up your magic remote control and aim it at someone you love today? Disarm, loved ones. Better to put that energy into prayer for those slow-growth individuals in your life and ask God to let you know how others are praying that you’ll change – now, wouldn’t THAT be a conversation!?

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1 Comment

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  1. This is a fantastic post, Lori! What a great reminder to allow God to change us rather than focusing on others and their need for change! It reminds me of the scripture that says we need to take the log out of our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our brother’s. Thanks for a challenging post! Good word!