Keep on Shining!

Keep on Shining!

Another productive sixth grade school year came to a close last week. At the end of each year, I usually receive a handful of letters from former students who are graduating high school. It warms my heart to read about how much they enjoyed my class and how I became a positive impact in their lives. Sometimes it comes from students who I least expect. It is a reminder that you never really know the impact you may have on some people. As I do every year with my current class, I end the year by asking them to share some things they enjoyed the most about the year, some things they did not really enjoy, and what their goals are going into seventh grade. 

Now these are 12 year old kids, so their initial answers are not too deep. After prodding and challenging them, their responses get more real and honest. Most of them say positive things about me and learning math, even the ones that do not usually like the subject. There was one particular student this year, however, that told me point blank that he did not really like me. I am not surprised by a response like that. I have been teaching now for 20 years and have dealt with many difficult students over that time. What did surprise me by this particular response is that he was one of my top students. I spent a lot of time over the course of the year encouraging him when he got frustrated about being unable to figure out some math problems. I even had a wonderful meeting with his parents about how well he performed in class, so much so that I decided to move him up a level when he starts seventh grade. I told him that I appreciated his honesty and was just curious as to why he felt that way. Well the truth came out eventually, and it was because I held him accountable for the times his behavior became unacceptable in class. I told him, like I tell all of my students, that I care deeply about them, but I am not here to be their friend. God has placed me in their lives to help them think critically, hold them to a higher standard, and hopefully help discover what God wants for their lives. After that, he just sat there and gave me a cheesy smile.

It was a stark reminder of how this is playing out in our society around us today. People may not like it when you speak the truth or hold them accountable for their actions. Love is now defined as being tolerant of everyone’s beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Everything has flipped upside down. The lines of distinction have been blurred. Unfortunately, this has creeped into many church bodies, as well. To call it out is viewed as uncompassionate or even hatred. We, as true followers of Christ, are not called to live this way. It has been said many times to love the sinner and hate the sin and that is certainly true. While that is not an actual verse in the Bible, God does lay out what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

God demonstrates that love for us in John 3:16 ESV:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God tells how to show it in Matthew 5: 14-16 ESV:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

“ The object of our shining is not that men may see how good we are, nor even see us at all, but that they may see grace in us and God in us, and cry, ‘What a Father these people must have.’” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

Unfortunately, not everyone will accept it or even understand it. Some may despise us for it. We may even experience trials because of it. Nevertheless, we cannot hide the light of Christ. People’s eternal destiny hangs in the balance. So keep praying to our Heavenly Father for opportunities to share God’s redemptive work on the cross, keep submitting our flesh and mind to the Holy Spirit, and keep on shining!

Wayne Errig