When we hear John 10:10, we often focus in on the full life part for a couple of reasons. First, the church has been doing an extensive series on what the full life could and should look like in various areas of your life, so you might be programmed to think on it by now. Second, a more abundant life is prettier to look at than stealing, killing, and destroying. But that first part is equally as important in understanding the verse, as well as being able to objectively assess our own actions. Are they of God or are we working for the thief?
If I told you that the thief often does his killing, stealing, and destroying through people, you might readily agree. That makes sense, because someone you know pops into your head when I say that. But what if the person he’s using to destroy things in your life or the lives of others is you? It’s hard to imagine. First of all, it’s hard to imagine oneself as the problem, because people tend to have a blindspot regarding their own weaknesses. It’s easier to see how someone else is a problem, because we are affected by their issues. When I act out, I don’t necessarily feel the forces of my actions, and feelings are usually key to discerning these kinds of things. It’s also hard to image when we consider our proximity to God. Aren’t I too close with Him to be working for the thief?
Well, before you dismiss the suggestion that you could be operating as the thief’s destroyer, simply because you are a good Christian and close to God, I want you to consider a Matthew 16:21-23.
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Peter was as close to Jesus as any man who ever lived. He literally walked with Jesus daily for about three years, listening to His teaching, being mentored by Him, and working for Him. He was close to God. And right here, he’s trying to do the right thing based on his closeness to God and belief in Jesus. But what does Jesus say? “Get away from me, Satan.” Peter, the close friend of Jesus, found himself working for the Devil, not out of ill intentions, but out of his own good intentions with were contrary to God’s desire. Had he weighed his words – something he isn’t known for – he might not have said them, but he didn’t weigh, and he did say.
We must be careful to consider our words and actions. We must weigh them against what God desires, not what want to see happen, good as it may be. Sometimes, out of our good intentions, and certainly out of our selfish desires, we can end up being the destroyer. It’s not a fitting job title for a Christian, though, so before acting or saying, ask yourself a question. “Will this bring life, or is it destructive?”