Anyone who has raised children or ever meet one has seen him or her pout. Mommy doesn’t fork over a quarter for the gum ball machine or Daddy tells him to stop hitting his sister with the dog and the pout is on. Lower lip protrudes, chin droops, tears well, spirit disappears.
Children pout when they don't get their way and often when they are chastened for doing the wrong thing. Sometimes you tell them not to play with their food, and they exclaim, “Fine, I won’t eat at all.” They pout because they think they are punishing their parents, and if parents cave into the pout, they will never see an end to the behavior.
Pouting, however, is not a behavior that automatically ceases on the day of one’s baptism or eighteenth, birthday, whichever comes first. Husbands and wives pout when unwillingly put on the compromising side of some matter. Church members have even been known to pout.
Should an elder or parent make a critical comment to a Bible class teacher, some will exclaim, “Fine, I just won't teach class anymore.” If their pout is in low gear, they may choose the silent approach instead and just refuse ever to sign up again.
Maybe someone makes a suggestion about the communion preparation, building cleaning or something else. The person responsible for things feels reproved and rejected and throws on the pout face. “Fine, I just won’t do anything anymore!”
Some pouters go so far as to threaten to take their membership elsewhere when they receive the slightest criticism or the sincerest rebuke. Friend, this is not what Jesus had in mind when he admonished people to come to him “as little children.” Childlike trust, yes; childish immaturity, no.
Can you imagine Apollos pouting because of the correction wrought by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18)? Can you see Peter’s lower lip sticking out after Paul rebuked him for hypocrisy (Gal. 2)?
Spiritual maturity includes the ability to accept suggestions and even corrections without going to pieces and putting on a martyr face. God chastens us because he loves us and our parents have done the same (Heb. 12:1-11). Usually, when a brother in Christ conjures up the courage to suggest or correct, he has the same selfless motive -- to help. Either he is trying to save a soul from death (James 5:19-20) or he is just trying to help me be a more effective steward of God’s gifts and opportunities. Not all suggestions are good, just as not all rebukes hit their mark, but it takes honest meditation to determine what is actually helpful. Rather than resorting to defensiveness and pouting, accept another’s assistance in the spirit it is given and do all to the glory of God, even if that means sacrificing a little of your own.
By J.S. Smith via The Woodmont Beacon, March 13, 2005
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