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, not on our own. But 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 in Him, we can be changed.
And do you know what? Much as we might want to, we can’t change anybody else either. The urge to change other people can be very strong. It’s part of being human. Sometimes we get into the habit of thinking, “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!
Second, look at what they tell 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!
Don’t be afraid to speak openly and have that dialogue with the people closest to you. In your most intimate or important relationships, you’ve got to be able to say, “Look, I understand you’re upset, but you have to help me understand why. Why are you upset with me?”
In your closest relationships, you can’t do without that kind of communication. You’ve got a lot of copper pipes in your life. Obviously you’re more engaged with some than others. Some you’re engaged with intimately. That’s when you must communicate.
Of course, you don’t always get to ask. Sometimes your loved ones may not show it when they are upset with you. That’s when you have to depend on them to open up to you. 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. So I depend on her to tell me when I’m upsetting her and can’t see it.
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 non-constructive 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, you depend on them to tell you.
Jesus sets the best example for how to be in a relationship. More on that next time. See you Monday.