*This one has been knocking on the door to this blog for a while, so…*
Many of us have heard the phrase “don’t kill the messenger.” There’s a reason that this phrase is so widely used. Unlike in the Uriah’s case, most of us aren’t carrying messages that literally tell someone to kill us, but many of us find ourselves in someone’s crosshairs if we tell them something they don’t want to hear. Many times, it is the message that they have a problem with, but before they can contend with that, they have to deal with the messenger.
People are very particular. We want messenges to come from reliable sources with impeccable backgrounds in the area in which they are daring to speak, or some tiny indiscretion so far in the annals of history no one brings it up anymore. Yet we want them to understand. For example, no one wants a physical trainer who isn’t physically fit, yet if they have never been overweight, we may complain that they don’t know how hard it is for us.
The three major reasons I find to discredit what someone has said to me that pertain solely to the messenger are:
1. They can’t relate to me and what I’m going through.
2. They are in no better position than I am to give me advice.
3. I don’t like the way they said whatever it is they are said.
It’s like when you have a friend that does something once and wants to tell you all about it like they know: the friend who loses five pounds and wants to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat, even though they still have a long way to go themselves); the man who is telling you how to treat a woman yet has a string of divorces and baby mama’s behind him; the person who gets baptized Sunday and now wants to tell you how you need to get your life right; that person trying to tell you how to write a bestseller that has never HAD a bestseller…ever. Doesn’t that just irritate you?
Here’s the thing, though: the truth is the truth, no matter what lie it escapes from. When I was living with my aunt and working to be able to return to college, I was feeling a little rough for wear. I wasn’t complaining about where I was in life, but I was just barely hanging in there and hoping that there was light at the end of this tunnel. My cousin, who I saw as someone who was perpetually in a cycle where he had to be rescued from bad decision making, told me something that he observed about me that made me mad. When I say mad, I mean I saw RED. Who does he think he is, saying that to me when he doesn’t even do it himself? I mean, I may be struggling to get keep my spirits up, but at least I haven’t…
Five years later, I can admit that what he said had some truth to it. Just because he had not apprehended the message himself, didn’t mean that the message wasn’t a good one. Throughout the entirety of the Bible, God only used one perfect messenger, and that was Jesus. God, at different times and in various ways, spoke by the prophets (to paraphrase Heb. 1:1). Many of the leaders of the people He chose didn’t do everything perfectly. We always hear how Peter denied Christ three times, yet he preached the first gospel sermon. I’m sure there was someone there who said to themselves”isn’t this the same guy who denied Jesus when he was being crucified? If he really believed Jesus was the son of God or could save men’s souls, why did he deny even knowing him? If I believed all the things he’s said, I would have stood by Jesus, even if it had meant death.”There were many there the day of Pentecost who did not respond to the gospel; maybe some of them just didn’t like the messengers.
No one likes to be called out on what they are doing wrong or could be doing better, least of all by someone who they think is somehow unqualified to dispense the advice they are giving. However, God called us to exhort one another to good works and speak the truth in love. Many of us don’t say anything because we aren’t perfect and we don’t want people to discount us, but that doesn’t resolve us of responsibility to obey God’s commands. We are so afraid of being called a hypocrite that we won’t say anything, and so quick to call someone a hypocrite that we won’t listen to anything.
I listened to a podcast from the Lewisville Church of Christ that gave a great definition of hypocrisy. This minister said that you are a hypocrite when you don’t intend to be what you pretend to be. As long as you are still striving to live a life for Christ and you repent of any sin you commit, you can rest assured that sharing your faith doesn’t make you a hypocrite. Even Paul says in Phil 3:13:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
No one has it down; no one is perfect. Just because you don’t have it all together and down pat doesn’t discount the truth; just because you don’t like the messenger doesn’t discount the message. My exhortation to you is to judge the credibility of the message and not the messenger.
Sometimes we love the messenger, yet we know that the message they are delivering is not in line with our values and beliefs. There are people that we love and respect who give us the wrong information. We have to be able to put aside the person and examine what they are saying. People can always lead you astray in all areas of life. You don’t have to take every suggestion given to you.
Actively search the messages you are receiving for truth and forget about the messenger. That is the new rule I’m trying to live by.
P.S. There’s a part II to this post. To Be Continued…