At one time I was quite proud of the Hebrew words I knew that my church friends did not. My church asked me to teach a class on the feasts. I agreed to share a series I owned by a well-known Messianic leader. A large group assembled in our home to hear the message. The Messianic leader rigidly used all the Hebrew words for the name of the biblical books when giving references. All the names of the people were given in Hebrew also. I knew the series was full of Hebrew so I passed out a dictionary of about 40 Hebrew words that he used to clue them in on what he might mean. After the first session, these people left bewildered. They heard it all, but understood very little. By using those 30 or 40 Hebrew words, the listeners were so distracted they did not have time to concentrate on the English words they knew. I had been asked by a large number of people to share about the feasts, but I and the Messianic leader who shared were too proud to teach them in a manner they could understand. We gained status because we knew a few Hebrew words and they did not. In reality, we were just arrogant.
I once was zealous for the Lord and kept the feast with great conviction. I had many Christian friends attending the feasts with me. We ate in the Sukkah even when it rained. I’ll never forget the spaghetti and meatballs floating in 1/2 inch of water while eating under a Sukkah in a deluge. We camped the whole week and we even used the fire for cooking as if we were ancient wandering Israelites. We tried not to use modern conveniences because we would not be properly remembering our journeys in the desert. We made and used outdoor toilets, and washed the dishes in water that we carried to the campsite. This was about 1000 feet up a relative steep incline. The children loved the adventure and time of playing together but it was so difficult on the mothers that our family was the only one from that time period who remained keeping the feasts. My zealousness drove people away from the things of God.
My sin of pride and over zealousness was greater than their ignorance of priceless information. My desire to teach them a new spirituality drove them away from the revelation God had shared with me. It is the Father who drew them, and I ran them off. These were precious people with a sincere desire to follow God. It wasn’t that they were not determined enough, rather it was I who was impatient. It wasn’t that they couldn’t understand the things of God, but that I felt compelled to be the hero who saved them. God wasn’t about ready to send them to hell; he was about ready to give them the next step of their walk. My actions drove them from the path with a machete. I have repented of the pride and zealousness because I know too well the outcome. The natural response to a new spiritual realization is to allow the flesh to take over. Then one will rigidly teach something of which he only recently became aware. These days of Elul are times when we can put down the machete and never pick it up again. These brother and sisters are not given to us by God to be our victims. Instead they are our blessed friends whom we are to gently guide. Are we guiding the flock by leading, or are we driving the flock with a whip? Remember the tongue can be used as a whip or a lure. Consider these things as we seek teshuvah to God. If you have been as unwise as I and driven many away, apologize to them for wrong actions. It wasn’t their fault. Some of them may not have been drawn by God when you felt compelled to teach them. We don’t want to be responsible for them never knowing what we have been given to share. Let’s make things right so they can be free to learn from YHWH.
Much too often our wicked behavior attempts to disguise itself as discipline, loyalty, and commitment. Are we so devoted to our interpretations of things that we allow a gulf or a wall to emerge between us and our brothers?
“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.”
(Philippians 1:15-17, NKJV)
The most painful wounds are inflicted by those we consider friends and brothers, loved ones, respected teachers and mentors.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew in me a resolute spirit.”
(Psalm 51:10, CJB)