Summary: Part 2 of this series focuses on how we misinterpret ourselves and misrepresent Christ.
Misinterpretation; Misrepresentation: It’s About The Truth Part 2
Last week I delivered Part one of this message on truth. My Focus last week was to set the stage with an explanation of the five senses and how although we depend heavily on them, they do not always lead us to the truth. In that message I shared with you a specific example of how our senses fail us using the story of Isaac. Within that story I told you that we wear cloaks (and/or masks) to hide who we really are – and I asked you to think about what you would do if you wore a sign that said you were a Christian. Some of you might change some of the places you visit routinely while others of you may change how you talk. Some of you believe that you would not change anything and that is fine also. This morning I want to conclude this series by us taking a serious look at ourselves and the truth that we hide about ourselves. Let’s go into the heart of the message: “Misinterpretation; Misrepresentation: It’s About The Truth”.
I want to begin with Misinterpretation. To misinterpret something means to not translate correctly. Think of someone who is interpreting a language for someone else. Imagine if you will, that I am standing before you delivering this message and we have people in the congregation who only speak Spanish. In order for them to understand the message, I would need someone to interpret the message. What happens if the person doing the translating of what I am saying gets it totally wrong – they misinterpret what I am saying? The message I am delivering would not be the message that they are receiving because the translator was getting it wrong. All of us misinterpret things from time to time. We judge others by what we see; we half listen to those we talk to so we misinterpret what they say; and because of our own issues, we misinterpret the actions and/or concerns of those who love us. But the worse case in my opinion is when we misinterpret ourselves. There are times when we accept the thoughts that others have of us as our own thus forgetting or misinterpreting who we really are. Let me walk you through this.
Let me give you an example of what I mean when I say we misinterpret ourselves when we take on the thoughts that others have of us. Again, remember the definition of misinterpretation is to not translate correctly. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 4:12-16 and 2 Timothy 1:5-7; 2:1, 15.
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who heard you.” (1 Timothy 4:12-16)
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline…..You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus….Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 1:5-7; 2:1, 15)
Timothy was a young Pastor, probably in his mid 30s, when Paul placed him in charge of the Church of Ephesus. Because of his age, apparently there were some other members of the Church who questioned his authority and or qualifications to be the head of this Church. Some of these older members were so vocal that Timothy began to misinterpret himself and what God had placed within him. Through his misinterpretation of himself, he had begun to neglect the spiritual gifts that were within him. The gifts were still there, but because Timothy began to doubt his abilities based on the complaints of some of the older members, he began to lose his way. In the first Scripture we read from 1st Timothy, Paul encouraged Timothy not to allow anyone to look down on his age, but to show the doubters who he really was by how he talked and how he carried himself as a believer of Jesus Christ. Paul reminded Timothy of what was within him and told him to begin to focus on and be absorbed within them, especially his teachings because of the impact on the people. Paul understood that even though some of the members were complaining about Timothy age and experience, it was his teaching and his understanding of God’s Word that would help those same people come to salvation. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he reminded him of the faith that was within him as it was in both his grandmother and his mother. Paul also encouraged him to be strong and to be diligent about studying God’s Word so that he could rightly teach it to others without being ashamed. If you notice, Paul was not addressing the people and their acceptance of Timothy – he was addressing Timothy. At the point where Timothy was, it had ceased to be about the people and had become about how Timothy saw himself. Paul focused on Timothy’s perception of himself and how to change that for he knew if Timothy changed how he saw himself, the people would eventually come around. The same applies to you and I. We do not have to accept others interpretation of who we are unless it is the truth.