Last week I noticed a dark, purple spot on top of a couple of my toes on my left foot. Who knows how the bruise got there — I’m constantly running into things, bumping into things, and even dropping things on my feet. My favorite thing to run into is the foot board of my bed which we’ve had for about 20 years now. It’s in the same place it’s been ever since we moved into this house, but I manage to bruise my legs or stump my toes on it at least once a week.
Getting that blue bruise on my toes made me think about the little saying, “you’re stepping on my toes now.” Of course when we say that to someone we’re not usually referring to them clobbering our feet with their feet. We’re talking about them wounding our egos, piercing our hearts, or messing in our business. We’re saying that they’re penetrating some cherished belief that we know to be wrong or they’re exposing some poor behavior that we’ve tried to gloss over.
No one likes to have their toes stepped on, literally or figuratively. We prefer everyone keep a safe distance from our feet and our convictions alike. But a good toe bruising is sometimes necessary to get it through our thick skulls that we’re repetitively heading in the wrong direction.
In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul warns his young protege that a time will come when people will prefer to have their ears tickled rather than get their toes stepped on. He says people will even deliberately turn away from having to hear the truth and choose instead to listen to meaningless philosophies and ideologies that sound intriguing, enlightening, and deep, but are really just fluff.
I read this passage afresh today and got my own toes bruised. I must admit, every other time I’ve read these verses I’ve focused on the words “they”, “themselves”, and “people”. I’ve thought to myself, “Shame on those people for turning away from the truth to listen to that which tickles their ears!”
But today I asked myself, “How often do you allow the Word of God to give you a good toe bruising, Kay?” The truth is, I often deflect the bruising that is meant for me and throw it on someone else instead. Aren’t we all prone to sit in church and think to ourselves, “So-and-so ought to be here to hear this!” or “I sure hope what’s-his-name is listening!” or “Amen! Preach it pastor! They need to hear this!”
Or other times we might hear the truth, see it getting awfully close to our toes, and take a deliberate step back rather than feel the pain of the impact.
- We start thinking about what we’re going to have for lunch rather than focus on the truth that’s being preached.
- Our minds wander to the day’s agenda rather than meditate on the truth we’re reading in the Bible.
- In our sophistication we negotiate with the scripture by claiming that this particular passage no longer applies to our modern world.
- We skip right over those bruising passages and move on ahead to the familiar and friendly ones instead.
- Or we simply say we’ll deal with that truth later. After all, tomorrow is another day!
When I read 2 Timothy 4:3-4 today I took it like a big girl instead of passing the buck. I said “ouch!” and I sat down and thought about how I’ve avoided a bruising too many times in the past. And I determined to let the Word of God bruise me sufficiently so that I could learn a few lessons along the way.
Let’s decide together to let 2011 be the year of a good bruising. Let’s not sit on our toes, but stick’em out there to be stepped on instead. And let’s learn a few lessons that we might otherwise never learn.
Here’s the good news. We can trust our God with the bruisings. He doesn’t step on our toes to permanently cripple us, but to teach us to walk more closely to Him.