Do me a favor and please read Psalm 69.
Commentators have no doubt that this is a psalm of David – but as to what was going on in his life that put the pen to voice we simply aren’t sure. We know he’s in pain or affliction, we know he’s been crying out to God for some time, we know that HE knows that his pain and suffering are warranted (for whatever reason), he knows that there are people who are persecuting him and thus he seeks God’s judgment upon them, and he ends with simple joy and praise – knowing that these things, offered up to God, mean more to God than anything else.
So here is something I picked up on and simply where I am drawn: the things we do, MEAN something in life. As a parent I quickly realized that my children watch what I do and respond because of it. The comments I make towards my wife or kids, the way I treat them, the way I give and serve my community. All of these things are taken in and observed and responded to, in one way or another, by others. They learn from them, they respond to them, they emulate them and – most importantly – their relationship with God is impacted as well. Think about that for a second. If our words and actions mean something towards others then they most definitely mean something to God too because he desires us to love and serve others as He has done. And so if Christ loved and served and sacrificed himself for others we too must live and emulate that relationship.
I’m really struck by David’s words of guilt and confession starting at verse 6. His prayer for others and their relationship with God is striking. Understanding and knowing that he may have done something to hurt someone else’s relationship with God is powerful and hits me hard. Early on in my time as a Pastor I remember having a conversation with someone who was new to the faith and was struggling in some areas and I approached that relationship with him in the same way I would have someone who had a strong relationship with God and me…and it didn’t turn out very well. I hurt him. And while I humbled myself and apologized for the things I said (even though they were absolutely true – he simply wasn’t in a place to understand and hear that) the last thing I wanted to do was ruin his relationship with God for the things I said. What’s really difficult for me is knowing that while he accepted my apology, admitted that he was really angry with me, I haven’t seen or heard from him since. I don’t know if he’s attending a church some place else or has simply tossed God to the side. I pray my misplaced words of comfort and faith did not push him further away with the pain he already bore.
Our words and actions MEAN something.
It shouldn’t surprise us really. From the get-go God created us to be relational as he is relational. Loving, serving, building up and creating – all things that have us doing things for each other and creation. But we broke that when we sought to serve self. And we have been paying the price ever since. And God sought to right that wrong by sending Jesus Christ – the ultimate self-sacrificing person to walk the earth. And while we thankfully affirm that because of this ultimate act of sacrifice we are brought back into the fold, back into love and grace and forgiveness – it doesn’t mean that what we say and do doesn’t still affect those that love us, observe us, and learn from us.
Ultimately while I am still pained for what I have done I find comfort in knowing that while my words and actions may miss the mark – in the end it isn’t my words and actions that make or break someone and their relationship with God. God is in control there – not me. And what he has done is everything in HIS power to make sure that MY WORDS and actions fall away to HIS words and actions. And while we are held accountable for the things done and the words said our pain caused cannot undo his pain endured.
So be challenged and reminded that people are watching, learning, observing, and taking in your words and actions. That if you are a Christian and profess your love of God that all you say and do will be put under a microscope as well…especially by the ones you love and care for and have entrusted you with their spiritual care. Your words and actions mean something…because YOU mean something to the person hearing them.