“What goes into a person’s mouth does not make him dirty. But what comes out of a person’s mouth makes him dirty.’ – Matthew 15:11 (Worldwide English Version)
Has anyone ever said something to you that is impossible for you to forget? When I first became a Christ follower as a young adult I was so on fire for Jesus that I wanted to tell the whole world about it, whether they wanted to hear about it or not. When you find the solution for the gnawing emptiness that you have felt inside for years, it is hard not to want others to experience Christ’s love and freedom too. Imagine how I felt when one of my co-workers responded to my new-found passion for Jesus one day with the following comment, “Leonard, if Jesus is anything like you, I don’t want anything to do with him.”
Looking back on those years, I can honestly say that my heart was in the right place, but my mouth seemed to get in the way of what I was trying to express. It still does sometimes. It is a hard lesson to learn that we, as Christians, can actually be the biggest obstacle for others coming to know Christ. I want others to know Christ more than anything, but if all that they can see is Len (which is most of time), I’m just in the way. The flesh is a powerful force to recon with. Fortunately for us, Jesus understands how powerful that the flesh can be and He warned his disciples to, “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
I mean, how thirsty would you have to be to accept a cup of water in a dirty cup from someone who had filthy hands? Going back to my friend and her hurtful comment, I see now that I was on fire because I had tasted Living Water. The Holy Spirit was burning within me. I wanted others to “taste” this Living Water too, but the cup that I was offering the water to them in was filthy because of my filthy hands.
It has been many years since I first tasted Living Water. Jesus promised, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.” (John 7:37-38). Friends, we are not the source of the Living Water. Jesus is. Only Jesus can offer Living Water with clean, nail-scared hands. Our job is not to pretend to be the source of this water. Our role is simply to tell others what Jesus has done in our lives and to point others to the well where Jesus is waiting.
So do others see Jesus when they look at our lives, or is there just too much of us in the way to see Him? Dying to the flesh is not just hard, it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. The flesh wants to be noticed and attended to constantly. Sadly, unless we learn to let go of our pride and ego for the sake of Christ, I’m afraid that all that we are ever going to be is a stumbling block for others, offering dirty cups with dirty hands.
Dear Jesus. Please forgive me when I’m so consumed with being noticed that I get in the way of others seeing you through my life. Help me to learn how to submit to your Holy Spirit and not to my flesh. Forgive me when I have been more of a stumbling block to others knowing you than a guide. If it pleases you Lord, cause rivers of living water to flow from our hearts and lives to bring you glory and praise. Thank you Lord for your patience with us and for loving us enough to never give up on us. Thank you for showing us that the spirit is more powerful than the flesh. We love you Lord.