I was attending one of our affiliated house churches and asked for prayer as I was very tired and needed some wisdom in some areas. So everyone gathered round me as I stood, laying hands on me, and I felt refreshing in my spirit and soul as they prayed. There were a couple of encouraging prophecies and I was blessed and felt much better. As everyone took their hands off me and returned to their seats, I felt a tug on my lower left pant leg.
Looking down I saw a little boy named Adam tugging my pant leg. He was so cute, at 4 years old already wearing thick glasses due to an eye condition, and he was dressed up a bit for house church. He was being taught respect for elders, so when I asked what he wanted he replied: "Pastor John. The Lord said something to me for you." (Though we don't use titles I appreciated the thought) Everyone in the room smiled as he was so sweet, and so sincere, and I gently responded, "Thank you Adam. I'd love to hear what the Lord has for me. What did He say?"
He looked up at me through those thick glasses, and in his most sincere 4 year old voice said, "The Lord says to you that He loves you, and you're doing a good job." My heart melted in genuine appreciation, for that one simple word meant more to me than the others that preceded it. I immediately told him "Thank you Adam, that is right on from the Lord, thank you so much for sharing it, it means so much to me." To which he responded as he put his palm out, "You're welcome. Can I have 20 dollars?"
Everyone burst out laughing and a couple people commented he must have been watching Christian TV, LOL - but that word remains dear to my heart to this day.
As a child
That Adam was transparent enough to ask me in front of a room full of people for $20, demonstrated his total sincerity in all areas. No side stepping his desire, no lie saying he needed the money for a sick classmate at school - he just wanted to know if I would give him $20 and he was bold enough and transparent enough to ask it. His prayer was sincere. His prophecy was sincere. His request for money was sincere. Completely transparent.
Contrast his childhood simplicity with this
When we were pastors in Colorado we had a middle aged woman in our congregation who was known for being a bit of a user. She would as part of her daily routine walk by the local coffee shop, and if she saw a friend she would just sit down opposite them and start talking until that person offered to buy her coffee and a snack, She 'cruised' the coffee shop, diners, and I heard a couple stories about seeing someone she knew in a store and hanging around commenting about how she wanted thus and so but didn't have the money, hoping that person would pay for what she wanted.
One day we noticed she started wearing a wrap around neck brace. She announced she had hurt her neck and was probably going to have to go on disability. She was near retirement age but her pension wouldn't haves been a lot. She wore it all over town and repeated the story to all who inquired. One evening she came to the women's prayer meeting which Barb led. Barb said the Holy Spirit was so thick that night many were 'slain in the spirit' where they sat, and she had prophetic words for everyone there.
The woman with the neck brace had been sitting in her chair, and when Barb laid hands on her she fell over sideways, 'knocked out' so to speak by the Spirit for several minutes. When she woke up she asked Barb in hushed tones what she should do now. Barb sensed by the Spirit it had to do with her neck, so she responded with something like "Just do what the Lord would have you do." The woman quietly removed her neck brace and we never saw her wear it again. Her fraud had been exposed and dealt with in her heart not by the hand of man, but by the hand of God.
She had layered her greed for free money with a lie in order to justify herself. But the Lord gently exposed her lie and asked her to deal with it, and she did.
As we grow up we learn to add layers to our heart to protect us and to make us look better in the eyes of others. Little Adam had no layers so his prayer, his prophecy, his request for $20 were as clear as if looking at his heart through a newly washed window. The woman above had learned to cover the truth in her heart with layers of lies.
The trick for the disciple of Jesus is the process of peeling back those layers that we may look at our own hearts honestly. That we might honestly deal with our true motives, just between us and Jesus, in private, and make the adjustments He asks. That is why He asked me (in part 1 of this series) what I was going to tell Barb about why I cleaned the window blinds. He was trying to keep me transparent with myself and her - and Him.
In I Corinthians 3:1-15 Paul deals with some of the people at Corinth who he said were living like they weren't even born again. He also said they were babies, only able to receive the milk of the Word though by this time they should be eating the meat of the Word. He said they were spiritual babies because they had envy, strife, and divisions in their hearts. He told them if they died in that condition those things would be like wood, hay, and stubble that would be burned up before Christ, though they would be saved. He advised them to grow up and be doers of the Word as they walk with the Lord.
The word 'division' here is of particular interest...
It is the Greek word 'dichostasia'. It means 'to mark someone and stand apart'. The word 'diche' means 'asunder, apart' and 'stasia' means 'to stand'. Specifically, the people of Corinth had marked those (Christians) they disagreed with and decided to 'stand apart' from them, tearing asunder their relationship, to separate themselves from them.
Paul had told the Galatians in 4:19 that he 'travailed (was in labor) again for them that Christ might be formed in them', using the gestation period and birth to illustrate spiritual growth. He explained the forces at work: Christ in us growing and pushing us from within to clean up our motives and allow ourselves transparency at the risk of being hurt, while dealing with forces working against Christ growing in us - The temptation is to add another layer of dishonesty over the top of our heart because we don't want to deal with the sin we are hiding.
Pride is the sin, no matter the other names we call it to justify ourselves when we know we are even partially in the wrong - it is all pride, and the Bible indicates no one but the proud person can humble themselves to be honest with themselves and God - no prayer can do it, only the guilty person can do it. You can't get prayer for it. No one can lay hands on you to be delivered of it. The person hiding behind their pride is the only one who can remove it, by humbling themselves...
Next week - how to deal with hurt and return to child-like transparency
Until then, blessings,