It's gotten to be a joke between my bride and me - my use of the phrase "I'm just saying..." as I try to make a case for an opinion or qualify something I've said. One of the great joys of this life has been and is that I get to spend time with someone who knows me intimately and yet loves me as I am.
My wife has a knack for "helping" (I typed that wincing, BTW) me to see not just whether my arguments are good ones, but perhaps as important, whether the way I'm putting them forward is good.
You see, I'm a passionate guy.
This life, role, position - this whatever you call it - how about - Christ-follower- demands that I never "phone it in". I'm supposed to be ever learning, ever changing, ever growing as I follow Jesus as his disciple. Love for Him drives me to really work at that - every day.
But there are times when even while driving hard after being like Jesus, being conformed to His image, I wind up portraying just the opposite. And what's crazy, I can do it without even realizing it.
"I'm just saying..."
If my Spirit-filled wife is really good at pointing that out, there is someone who's even better.
The Holy Spirit.
So I'm reading the story of the prodigal son today in Luke, not looking for anything specific, just wanting again to experience how much God loves "lost" things and through that remind myself of how much He loves "lost" people.
You know the story. Guy gets full of himself, tells his old man he's splitting, and to give him his part of the inheritance. Dad does, guy goes off to Las Vegas (my modern day paraphrase) and loses it all, and winds up sleeping with the pigs and living low on the hog. Realizes finally what he left behind and gets up and goes to try to make it right. Has his apology well rehearsed, probably repeating it over and over as he nears his old home. But his daddy, whose been pleading with God every day for him, and expecting God to bring him home, sees his son coming and runs to meet him. Grabs him. Hugs his filthy self and tells him it will be okay. BBQ ensues. (irony there, eh?)
With me so far?
Ok. Here's where I found myself in the story today.
28 "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!' Luke 15:28-30 (NLT)
I could see the older brother, seeing what went on and getting furious. Then as we used to hear in Georgia, he "showed himself."
All those years he spent doing the right thing - for the wrong reason - had changed him alright, but not in the way they should have. They made him more cynical, more willing to find fault in others, more blind to faults in himself.
When his daddy protested 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'"
Luke 15:31-32 (NLT)
I could hear that older brother say,
"I'm just saying..."
Friends, that's just wrong.
I thank God for the people He's put in my life to help with the corrections necessary sometimes when I start to veer off the Way.
What about your life - if you were able to step back and see it as others do, would make you realize that changes were needed to get back in step with the Spirit?
Maybe it's time to really commit to becoming part of a community of faith where each person holds the other accountable to Jesus, in love.
Maybe it's time to really follow Jesus as His disciple.
You need Jesus. I'm just saying... :)