I’ve been writing a lot about the lesson of the copper pipe and the way that it has liberated me from my judgments. Now I look at all the people in my life, including myself, as more or less the same. In our flesh, we’re all copper pipes. In our flesh, we all sin. We might deal with different sins, and we might deal with our sins in different ways, but we are all sinning. No one is better than another.
I’ve also written that copper pipes never change. We will never change. Jesus can change us. By running through us like hot water, Jesus heats us up with the wisdom of the Spirit. We can’t change ourselves, but we can be changed.
And do you know what? Much as we might want to, we can’t change anybody else. The urge to change other people can be very strong. It’s part of being human. Sometimes we get into the habit of thinking that we can tell somebody, “You need to change and I will change you.” Let me tell you, you have no shot at changing somebody else.
That’s where communication comes in. Suppose I notice that someone always reacts the same way to me, and it’s not a good reaction. In that scenario, two things have to happen. First, I need to get to the heart of why he reacts that way to me. There needs to be dialogue. If you have an issue with somebody, you go to them. That’s Biblical. You say, “I’ve got this issue. I want to know why every time I do this, you react like that.” Maybe they’ll tell you! Perfect!
Now second, look at what they’ve told you. Is it necessarily the case that he or she needs to change? Or is it you that needs to access that hot water? What if you were wishing that person would change, when all along you were the cause of their frustration or anger?
If that’s true, then God will help you use wisdom to stop provoking that person. And maybe when that happens, they will change. They’ll quit getting angry with you. If they don’t, then maybe they don’t realize their responsibility. Or maybe they don’t yet have access to the hot water of the Spirit.
But no matter what, I don’t think you can be afraid to speak openly and have that dialogue with people. When you have certain relationships with people, you’ve got to be able to say, “Look, I understand you’re upset at me, but you have to help me understand why. Instead of just snapping on me, why not tell me why you’re upset?”
In certain relationships, there’s got to be that kind of communication. You’re not going to have that same relationship with everybody. You’ve got a lot of copper pipes in your life. Some you’re engaged with and some you’re not. Some you’re engaged with intimately, and that’s when you really can’t do without communication.
If my wife was frustrated with me and never told me, then how would I know to hit the hot water and be changed by God’s wisdom? If she didn’t point out the places where she was feeling bothered, concerned, hurt, or angry, I might not know enough to turn to God for help.
Of course some things are obvious. I’m sure your husband or wife is not thrilled about it when you yell at them. You don’t get to yell and someone and then say, “I didn’t know I was doing something wrong.” You know you did something wrong! It’s the same with criticizing someone in a negative or unconstructive way. You know that’s hurtful. You have to take ownership of that. But if you’re not aware of how you’re troubling someone, they have to take responsibility. They have to tell you.
Jesus sets the best example for how to be in a relationship. More on that next time. See you Wednesday.