4I said to the arrogant and boastful, Deal not arrogantly [do not boast]; and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn [of personal aggrandizement]. 5Lift not up your [aggressive] horn on high, speak not with a stiff neck and insolent arrogance. –Psalm 75:4-5 (AMP)
Miriam had much to share about her family and her country. Sometimes it seemed so closely intertwined you might find yourself trying to distinguish between the two. Country, community, faith and family: sounds like the same things we are raised up with in the United States.
Miriam likened Kuwait to a melting pot, several nationalities, living together in her country. There are British, Jordanian, Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Iraqi. One story she shared would leave not only a deep imprint on my heart, but bring many questions as well.
One of Miriam’s sons had an American friend. This friend was acting pretty poorly, doing things he should not have been doing. When her son addressed this issue with his friend, the friend responded, “I’m an American”.
The friends reply was not surprising to me. But what her son said was. “Why do you do wrong things and then say, “I am American”, you should be ashamed, you do not honor your country”. This is a very weighty statement. And as with many things Miriam had conveyed to us over two days, I would find myself in sober realization.
I love my country, but I do not love the behaviors that are sometimes reflected upon us. More than that though, I love my faith, I love my Jesus, but I find myself reeling in disbelief at times by the conduct of professed Christians.
There is no shame for actions being taught amongst Christians and regardless of what is being delivered about grace and mercy, there should be. You may not agree, but I will explain.
Shame, as defined in the Encarta Dictionary reads:
1. Negative emotion: a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
2. Capacity to feel unworthy: the capacity or tendency to feel shame
3. State of disgrace: a state of disgrace or dishonor
4. Cause for regret: a cause for regret or disappointment
5. Cause of shame: somebody or something that causes somebody else to feel shame
If there is no shame, no negative emotion that causes a stir inside of you to recognize that what you are doing is wrong, how can you ever experience true grace and forgiveness? How is there a true Biblical repentance? John the Baptist was dealing directly with this same mentality in Matthew 3:7-9 when the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s were coming for baptism. This is what John the Baptist replied:
8Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart];
9And do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones!
Today’s Scripture sums it up in two words: personal aggrandizement. What exactly is aggrandizement? Here are a few other terms: exaggeration, overstatement, puffery, braggadocio, glorification, embellishment, boasting…
In a question simply asked, do any of these descriptive words illustrate the Jesus we proclaim to belong to? Or are they more indicative of the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s, that John the Baptist was addressing, who were so confident in their lineage from Abraham?
Christianity today has become more of a “convert” than “convey” mentality. Jesus Christ is the only One who can convert someone as it actually translates as: alter, change, transfigure, exchange. Our life, as Christians, should convey the love of Christ, meaning: carry, transport, transfer, deliver, express, communicate.
We are all very aware of the expression: Actions Speak Louder than Words. Who can argue that? Anyone can say anything, but you can only bank on what they do.
Does Scripture bear witness to this well-known statement? Absolutely, 1 Samuel 2:3 states
Talk no more so very proudly; let not arrogance go forth from your mouth, for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed.
God used this Muslim woman to open my eyes to Him in a way that many people in Christian circles would consider foolish. Many will question and ask how God can use a Muslim woman to teach a Christian woman anything.
God is God. God loves that woman just as much as He loves me. There is no partiality with Him. Jesus Christ died for that Muslim woman the same as He died and shed His blood for me. I am not better than her because I know Jesus.
I do not have it more right than she does. I am just humbled and blessed to be covered by the Righteous One. He wants her just as much as He wanted me. How humiliated would I be, to find myself before His throne, only to be shone how I had pushed one of His precious ones away, by a stiff necked arrogance shouting, “I am a Christian”.