Lipstick and I are not best friends. We have never gotten along well; I don’t think we understand one another. But the other night I decided to give her a chance – she does so much for others. Can she do the same for me?
The house was quiet after a couple of days of guests and we were antsy to do something. We decided to get cleaned up and go shopping for awhile. It was at this point that I decided to give Lipstick another chance. I reached for my new KatVonD and carefully applied the liquid color to my lips. I patiently let it dry before allowing my lips to touch and was pretty happy with the results. Now I had lips!
It is a half hour drive to Costco, our first stop. The lipstick was drying to my lips so I decided to add a touch of moisturizer. This may have been my first mistake. Without realizing it, I rubbed my lips together and chewed on my lip; basically, disrespecting Miss KatVonD.
We quickly toured Costco and left with only four items which is miraculous. Next stop – the mall for shoes. I am shopping with my husband so we proceed directly to the shoe store and began trying on shoes. He warned me he planned to choose pretty fast so I was set for a quick trip. He tried on four or five pair before deciding which ones to purchase. In this amount of time, I found a pair of boots for both myself and my granddaughter.
Next stop is something to eat. But before leaving the mall we made a quick detour to the restrooms. I was horrified to see that my lipstick was still on, but not where I had applied it. It had migrated off my lips onto the area surrounding my lips. I looked like a child who had wandered into her mother’s make-up drawer and gone wild. Why hadn’t he told me my lipstick had wandered? Just how many people had I spoken with in the last hour who wanted to say something but didn’t know how to tell the lady her lipstick looked ridiculous.
I quickly wiped my mouth of all evidence of Miss KatVonD, resigned that it just might not be my thing, at the same time wondering why my husband hadn’t been my mirror? Isn’t that what we are supposed to be for one another? What if it had been toilet paper on my shoe? Would he have said something?
Galatians 6:1-3 remind me of my responsibility to my brothers and sisters. Here is what it says:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.Galatians 6:1-3
Obviously this references matters much more important than lipstick smears. But it helps me to see what I might mean in the lives of others. For many years I understood this as permission – even responsibility – to bring the sin of another into the light – you know to talk about it; to let them and others know the sin is showing. This terrified me! I didn’t want to be the star of that show!
Several problems come to surface with that type of approach. First, it is neither humble nor gentle both of which are prerequisites in this passage. Secondly, it says “overcome by some sin” which does not refer to an intentional choice, but rather the sin that creeps into a person’s life when we are not depending on the Spirit but rather on our own rules to live a holy life.
Let me expound. As a follower of Jesus, I am commanded to do two things. This is the law of Christ Paul refers to above. First, I am to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and, secondly, to love my neighbor as myself. Everything I do or don’t do falls into one of these two categories. And Jesus said that if I do these two things I will fulfill the entire law. Yay! I love simple. I can do two things. (It’s really three things because I am supposed to love myself too!)
Slander. That is not loving to my neighbor. I make every effort to not slander others. There are two ways I can do that. I can make “rules” for myself to help keep my tongue controlled. But those rules will do nothing to change my heart and as I said in Out of the Heart, it is my heart that is the problem.
I have found a Romans 5:5 approach to be more successful. It says, “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” On my own, I am not a loving person and I can find many ways to slander others. But because I allow God to make my heart new, he has given me the Holy Spirit and fills my heart with his love. When I am having trouble loving, I draw from the well of His love within me.
So, when I observe my brother or sister overcome by some sin (slander toward others, negative self-talk, etc.) I can come alongside and gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. This method is best illustrated by the orchid. As an orchid grows and sends up stems that will develop flowers, they need support. Inserting a wooden rod next to the stem and then gently attaching the flower stem to the wooden rod allows the orchid to grow and bloom without falling over. That is what it means to gently come alongside someone who is struggling.
We are on this journey together. As I notice a brother or sister struggling and needing support, I can choose to help or not. As a sister in Christ, I come alongside and be the support the other needs. It might be through prayer, encouraging words, assistance in accessing the love of the Holy Spirit for yourself or others. And I will be alongside until you are strong enough to continuing growing alone. Then you will be ready to come alongside someone else.
The next two verses are a strong warning to the person who allows herself to be used in this way. Paul cautions that it is possible while helping another, you might fall into temptation yourself. What does he mean?
It doesn’t mean that we are going to start slandering – or whatever we are helping someone overcome. Rather it points to our own ability to sin in our own way, especially if we allow an attitude of superiority to develop toward the one who is struggling. What better time for the enemy to come in like a roaring lion than when we are full of ourselves and focused on what we have or have not done? Again, I emphasize Paul’s admonition to begin from a place of gentle humility.
Sometimes it is me that needs help and support. Other times it is someone along the way. Perhaps it is tempting to stand at a distance and notice another’s trouble without wanting to get involved. It’s messy to walk alongside someone else. It might move me out of my comfort zone. The last verse brings me right back to earth – “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
I have been in that place where I need someone to help me see what I can’t see. I appreciate those who are willing to get in the mess of life and walk alongside me, reminding me there is another way and that is the way of the Spirit.
I have a choice every day. Will I come alongside you and gently, humbly tell you the lipstick is smeared? Or will I let you wander all over the mall with your smeary red lips?
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26