Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore
One morning, our helper overheard and misunderstood a conversation I had with my husband. As a result, she was cold to me the entire morning, upset with what I had shared with my husband. She thought that I was complaining about her behind her back.
To redeem the situation, I tried to clarify things with her. As much as I tried, however, I did not handle her defensiveness well, and I ended up making matters worse. My tone became harsh, and I spoke unkind words. Finally, she blurted out these words, “You read the Bible every morning, but you are always complaining!” After that, she stomped back into her room and closed the door behind her.
Her words were like a slap to my face. I had just read my Bible that morning, too. But when misunderstanding arose, I gave in to temptation and responded in anger. I was silenced by my helper’s outburst.
Did I Reflect Christ?
I went for a shower, but what she had said kept running through my head—“You read the Bible every morning, but you are always complaining!” It sounded as if she had said, You are no different from an unbeliever. The Word of God has no impact on you. The statement made me feel judged and guilty at the same time, for failing to show Christ to her.
When she had first started to get defensive, I had felt a prompting in my heart, “Forgive! Forgive! I am to be the light that shines in the darkness of her heart.” I tried to fix my eyes on God and hold onto the verses in Matthew 18:21-22, to keep forgiving in the face of misunderstanding. But I failed and eventually lost my patience and self-control, and I wasn’t reflecting Christ the way I was supposed to.By reading the Bible without allowing the Spirit to work in my life, I was like a Pharisee who studied the Scriptures diligently, but refused to go to Jesus (John 5:39-40).
Did the helper see me as a follower of Jesus? I do not think so—her words to me were “You read the Bible every morning, but you are always complaining!” The world often recognizes us as disciples of Christ by the fruits that we bear. My harsh tone did not reflect Christ in me. The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—was absent from my response (Galatians 5:22-23).
God Enables Me
I felt like a mess, unrighteous and unworthy of God’s love. But then I recalled that my righteousness does not come from me, but from God alone—by His redemption through His blood shed on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). His righteousness was given to me freely when I did not deserve it, and I can receive it only by faith.
Having been redeemed by Him, I knew that I needed to lay aside my pride and self-righteousness, and invite the Spirit to work powerfully within me to bear greater fruit. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I could bear the fruits of greater patience and love for people around me, so that I would speak only words that build them up. As a follower of Jesus, I have decided to lay aside every hindrance and follow Him, the One who is the author and perfecter of my faith, and let God rule over me so that the weakness of my flesh does not overcome me.
Since the cross has taken away my sin, I am forgiven in Christ, I am free to live in Him. I am free to seek forgiveness from my helper. What had hindered me was my pride and my self-righteousness, which Christ has taken away when I laid it down at His cross.
With this in mind, I plucked up enough courage to apologize and reconcile with my helper for losing my patience and lashing out at her with unkind words. I sat down with her, and with calm voices, we both worked through what had happened and finally came to an understanding of what we both meant.
All this would not have been possible without God showing me His righteousness, grace, and mercy—forgiving me when I read the Bible but failed to display Christlikeness. As I continue to live out my faith, I want to remember that my own efforts in reading the Bible only lead to textbook knowledge, and I can never be His true disciple if I do not fix my eyes on God and do what He desires of me.