I think I'm going to need a bigger cake!
I read a very familiar passage this week but as the Holy Spirit works, got a completely different message from it than any other time I have read it. I love that about the Spirit -- He makes familiar things new all the time. My reading was in Matthew 14. It is the account of John the Baptist's death.
Herod and his sister in law, Herodias, were having an affair. John called him out on it, never hesitating to speak the truth, and needless to say, Herod did not appreciate it. Neither did Herodias. They wanted what they wanted. Herod had John arrested but feared harming him because he was popular with the people.
Then . . . Herod's niece had a birthday. A party was thrown in her honor. She danced before Herod and he was so carried away by her performance that he promised to give her anything that she asked of him. I don't know what she was thinking, but she decided to consult her Mom.
Herodias knew exactly what she wanted.
The head of John the Baptist on a platter.
Herod was not pleased, but he had backed himself into a corner and did not want to be embarrassed in front of his guests. The beheading was carried out and the head of John the Baptist was presented to Herodias, on a platter, as a gift from her daughter.
Who wouldn't be mortified by that? This account is full of all kinds of wrong. It has adultery, pride, vengeance, and murder. To top it off, a young girl is made complicit in the betrayal of her father and the death of an innocent man.
Herod and Herodias silenced their critic.
Now, I'll admit that was a drastic measure to take.
But don't we all do this in our own way?
*We no longer call the friend who risked pointing out something that needs our attention.
*We stop listening to the pastor who speaks of sin and opt for a kinder, gentler gospel where life choices and relative morality reign.
*We lash out and counter attack.
*We ignore and dismiss.
*We drag others into our drama.
*We turn a deaf ear to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
*We behead the entire criticism rather than look for the truth in it.
Taking criticism well has never been my strong suit, but I have grown tremendously over the years in my ability to do so. I'm still learning.
I have learned to sift through what is said and seek the Spirit about the truth that falls through. I want to learn and grow from the criticism of others. I want to be teachable, pliable and ever changing in the hands of the Lord.
I have grown to appreciate those that love me enough
to say something hard.
I have grown in my desire to be more like Jesus -
even when words sting.
I have grown to embrace the refining fire
of criticism, exhortation and truth.
I have read this account many times and there are so many lessons to be learned, but today, I had to ask myself . . .
Whom have I beheaded?
Why am I so angry about something that was said about me?
Am I seeking growth from both criticism and encouragement?
Am I turning a deaf ear to the Spirit in favor of my own agenda and comfort?
Am I saying "la, la, la" in my mind when I should be listening?
Certainly not every critic is someone to heed,
but it is far too easy to dismiss them all.