Perhaps you have known some folks with an uncanny knack of rubbing you the wrong way. Of course, we have all been that person at one time or another and we can easily find more faults in others than in ourselves. At the same time, annoying people often bring an unexpected gift—a divinely ordered glimpse of our own sin. In His perfect wisdom, God often addresses our blind spots by an encounter with our sinful manners in someone else.
As sinners saved by grace, perfect godliness awaits us in glory. Until then, we learn and grow. And as we serve Christ alongside other believers, we will eventually experience some of the best examples of how to act as a believer—and some of the worst. As we serve with people in positions of responsibility we will see God working in humble hearts helping others for His glory, but with others we may meet an unsanctified arrogance that can be tough to bear: “A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, but the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them” (Prov. 27:3). When a little power and authority goes to our head we can forget that our ministry came as a gift from God, and that Christ, the God of the universe became flesh, had nowhere to lay His head and willingly suffered the worst kind of humiliation and suffering imaginable for unworthy enemies, or that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).
When we are treated poorly by the immaturity and sin of others, a cool head with a little reflection might reveal that the way others treat us sometimes mirrors how we treat them, a picture of the sin we ignore in our own life. And while we should think twice about a ministry of personally giving others a real-time example of depravity for their benefit, the display of spiritual immaturity in others can encourage our own repentance and growth in Christian maturity. We have all encountered more than a few examples of how we should never behave toward others, but our lesson should be that we have often treated people the same way.
No one escapes pride this side of glory. It ruled the roost before we came to Christ and rears its foul head at the slightest success or indignity. Indeed, the minute we fancy ourselves delivered from its grip we find ourselves puffed up to heaven with our humility! Its cure comes in a deepening relationship with Christ and appreciation of His infinite and amazing grace toward one so underserving. We grow in humility as we grow in understanding the nature of the wretch He saved by infinite love and suffering, and by knowing and loving the excellence of the One who purchased our eternal happiness.
Sanctification can be difficult, especially when helped by walking and talking irritants we meet or hold sway over some aspect of our lives. But God brings them for our good, as windows to the soul. Once we get over our pride in being disrespected by someone else’s lack of sanctification, we can confess and repent of the same in ourselves and grow in our love and knowledge of the One who has paid the penalty for it all. To Christ be all the glory. Amen.
 Edwards put it this way: “Some who think themselves quite emptied of themselves, and are confident that they are abased in the dust, are full as they can hold with the glory of their own humility, and lifted up to heave with a high opinion of their own abasement.” Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986 reprint edition), 245
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1995. Used by permission.
Yes, I Want a PDF of “Thorns as Windows to the Soul”
We respect your privacy. We’ll NEVER sell, rent, or share your email address. That’s more than a policy, it’s our guarantee!