One thing I love about preaching is being able to challenge people from time to time.  I want people to think about their faith and how they live it out.  Of course, there are times when the message hits a little close to home.  There have been times when I’ve been preparing a sermon and had to take a break because I was preaching to myself.  I imagine that has happened to everybody at some point.  It just hits a little close to home.  It goes from preachin’ to meddlin’.

Two of the passages from today’s reading cross that line.

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl.  She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.  She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”  This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”  And it instantly left her.  Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace (Acts 16:16-19).

Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart (Psalm 26:2).

These may be two different types of meddlin’, but if we take them seriously, they can cut us to the core.

The story from Acts shows what happens when we start to mess with peoples’ money.  The slave girl’s owners had no problem with Paul and Silas – until they ruined a money-making opportunity.  That’s when they get a little ticked about things, and take them to the officials.  I’ve seen people leave worship in the middle of a sermon about stewardship because it hit a little too close to home.  People don’t like it when their income, giving-patterns or thoughts on money get challenged.  Truth is, what we do with our money is a reflection of our spiritual health – for better or worse.

The second one is a little more personal – even more personal than what we do with our money.  The psalmists as the Lord to cross-examine him; to test his motives and heart.  This goes deeper than our finances because we can give, but we give out of obligation, not from the heart, then what is the point?  A large part of our faith has to do with what’s going on in our hearts.  If our hearts are in the right place, even when we mess up, we are on the right track.

It’s difficult to live an authentic life of faith and not get cut from time to time.  It may be meddlin’, but it’s necessary.  It’s only when we are truly challenged that we can grow in our faith.  So don’t be afraid of a little meddlin’ from time to time.  It’s good for the soul.

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