That was a great sermon...for them!

“Some of these people really need to hear that!”
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"Some of these people really need to hear that!"

These words have haunted me for a couple of months. I've waited to write about the conversation because I don't want the person who shared them with me to feel like they are being used as an object lesson. I always want to be sensitive to keeping pastoral conversations, including reactions to a sermon, confidential. But as time has gone on, these words have continued to echo in my mind. They don't stand out in my mind because of who shared them with me, or because they are particularly insightful, but because they put into words the natural condition of my heart.

I, just like most of you, have a keen eye for the faults and failings of others. It's easy and natural for me to see areas in which others can improve. But why? Simply put, if others look worse, I think I look better.

This manifests itself in so many ways.

If I’m struggling at work, I make sure to emphasize someone else’s failures to take the attention off of me.

Or if my sports team loses a game, I make sure to point out the ineptitude of the officials for missing that obvious call.

If I fail an exam, I ridicule the teacher’s style, age, inexperience, or anything else I can sink my claws into.

This is us.

So, this Sunday when you are sitting in the pew and you find yourself thinking “Some of these people really need to hear that,” backhand your self-justifying nature and force yourself to confess “I really need to hear that.” There’s a really good chance that what the Holy Spirit is whispering is about you, not your neighbor.