“The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.” ~ D.L. Moody
When my three were little, my oldest could most definitely be the “straight stick”. It would make my husband and I laugh, it would frustrate the other two; but every time one of them got into “trouble”, Tyler’s response was to get precious. The minute a tantrum started in the grocery aisle, Tyler would catch my eye and give me his sweetest smile as if to say “see what I am not doing, mommy?” Mercifully, he’s grown out of this little habit (the siblings appreciate that fact, LOL), but we remember it and giggle sometimes!
Of course, what’s funny in a toddler can be pretty, well, un-funny in an adult. We should be straight sticks all the time, not only when we see an opportunity to make ourselves look better in comparison to. God desires our best – not our better than. Let’s stay on this idea for a minute –
I have some people in my life who are “straight sticks”, and I love them. I can always count on them to do the right thing, have the correct response, behave with grace and kindness, apply God’s wisdom to their everyday. These “straight stick” folks do not “get precious” in response to the actions of others, they are consistently following Christ regardless of the actions of others.
Paul says it this way,
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:12-13 NLT)
These “straight sticks” in my life do show the evidence of their salvation with deep reverence and fear. Their example is Jesus, and they are not looking to be better “in comparison to” other people. They are daily walking in faithfulness and living the example Christ set before them. They are inspiration to me! A salvation that is evident -shouldn’t that be the case for every believer? We should be working hard to “show the results of our salvation” because “God is working in us”.
Let’s read a few more of Paul’s words – too good to miss here:
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life (Philippians 2:14-16 NLT)
It’s worth emphasizing: Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Be a straight stick! If you and I had a chance to visit, we might talk about the people who inspire us. I imagine that our answers might be vastly different (unless my dad is your inspiration too? 😉 ), but I also imagine that all of our heroes have one trait in common: they are consistent, they are dependable: they are straight sticks.
It’s a good question, a personal question, a question to consider in our own lives: Are we “straight sticks” all the time? OR – are we only “straight sticks” when it is convenient or easy or doesn’t make us stand out too much from the crowd? I think sometimes about my own life and example – am I truly walking it out? Would I be embarrassed if someone found out what my favorite tv show was or how I spend my afternoons? When I see Christians outraged or feel outraged myself about some “hot button issue”, am I quick to remember that all sin is the same to God? While we are outraged about whatever protest is happening on the news tonight, are we also outraged about what is on our DVR or in the Netflix cue (enough to change it?)?
Not having to change your behavior in response to the behavior of others, being consistent in your walk and showing the “results of your salvation”? That’s a daily discipline. Understanding that the Lord desires your best and not your better than, and being the “straight stick” in a crooked world? That’s a treasure – a treasure that will bless the heart of your Heavenly Father AND bless the people within your sphere of influence.
Praying that you have “straight stick ” people in your life to encourage you – and praying that you are a “straight stick” to others as well 🙂