Pastor Joe Miller IV
Well, I just had my 61st birthday, and it was the best one so far. Not because of the presents and gifts, even though I am appreciative of a good steak or box of homemade cookies, but because of the time set aside to spend with family and friends, just hanging on the front porch, drinking coffee, and watching the grandkids playing in the yard. I also appreciate cards and even nowadays a text reminding me of how old I’m getting, but most of all a handwritten card or letter from the heart of a loved one, especially my wife, kids, or grandkids, talking of our relationship and being thankful for each other and the influence and impact we make in each other’s lives. These letters actually bring me tears of joy. But not all letters are like these filled with encouragement, gratitude, and joy - some heartfelt letters are written out of despair, hopelessness, and fear like the book of Lamentations, written after Israel was taken captive and Jerusalem was made desolate all because their leaders shirked responsibility. Forefathers becoming lovers of their own selves and dads dropping the ball, causing the children to cry out to God for help. Father's Day is coming up and so the question here is what type of letter will you receive from your children? Not all of us are dads, but we all have relationships that we are responsible for and have opportunities to influence. What type of letter would you receive from them?
In Lamentations 5, I see three areas that we could all give more effort to for the benefit of those we influence.
Lamentations 5: 1-3
Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens. We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.
You see in verse 3, we are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows. They are there, but they aren’t here. Your presence makes a difference. Most men think the ‘presents’ they give to their loved ones make a difference, but your wife and kids want and need you more than your money. You might say they want your money more than you, and I would ask why would they put more value on your presents vs. your presence. Look in the mirror.
Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
God uses us as vessels and tools in this life to make a difference in the lives that He places in our paths. Like a doctor using surgical instruments. The most important part of that instrument is the cleanliness of it. Sometimes a dirty instrument will cause more damage than the original problem. You’ve heard it said ‘they would be better off without me.’ And I would say in your current sinful state yes, but God says this:
2 Timothy 2:21
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Quit being so selfish, and start serving those God has put in your life.
The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!
For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.
There is a good saying ‘attitude is a reflection of leadership.’ Walk into a room and start smiling, and you will find people smiling back at you. Give them a reason to smile, and the tears will dry from their cheeks, their mourning will turn to dancing, and their hopelessness will turn to joy. Sometimes this must start with an apology from us to the ones we are going to be held accountable for. To apologize for my absence - not just physically but also emotionally. To apologize for my self-centeredness and my flesh taking precedence over my responsibility to love those around me. To apologize for the bitterness and anger that has crept into my life and to those around me.
I wouldn’t wait another minute. Call that person now. Better yet, man up and go knock on their door. None of us are perfect, and we could all improve in these areas. My desire is that I would not receive a letter similar to Lamentations, but from Psalm 23. A letter from David to our Father Shepherd - the Lord. David says of the Lord (and we should agree) that He causes me to succeed and not fail. That He gives me a home and refuge to live. He causes me to run with a sparkle in my eye and make life joyful. He forgives and restores me when I fall. He guides and corrects me for my benefit. He blesses me.
Could this be written to you from those around you? I pray that it would be. To God be the glory. But if not, remember this, ‘only you can define your reputation.’ What type of letter would you deserve? And by the way, don’t answer that question yourself. Ask those around you.