Knee Jerk Devotional: October 12, 2020

Luke 8:26-39

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

What do you do when someone tells you the truth?

I have a problem. I am a terrible, awful, pathetic self-editor. I am sure that folks who read what I write often shake their heads at missing words or a misplaced comma. Usually it’s because my brain is moving faster than my fingers. When I go to edit what I’ve written my brain fills in the mistakes and I still don’t see them.

Amy will often say something like, “Would you like to know where the mistakes are?” She’s always gentle and kind and full of grace. I always say, “Of course!”

Then she begins, “In the first paragraph…”

I feel the frustration in me. It’s totally rooted in shame.

“I’m smarter than this. How could make such a silly mistake?”
“I’m a better writer than this. How could I be so dumb?”

As she continues I get more and more frustrated. My face feels flush. Silent reception of critique makes way for sighs and then groans.

By the end, I grunt out a “Thanks.”

This poor woman. She puts up with so much.

This silly, but true story, highlights what we see in this story above doesn’t it? The man possessed with many demons, a legion of them, is confronted with the person of Jesus. He is the embodiment of truth. The man responds with, “I beg you, don’t torture me!”

When we are faced with critique rooted in truth don’t we feel the same way?

“I beg you, don’t torture me!”

None of us like being criticized. It’s not easy or fun. We experience shame.

Yet, when we are able to hear it we are able to change and grow. When we are able to receive the critique we become a slightly better version of ourselves.

Our ego will try to protect us from the truth. The ego in many ways is like the “Legion” in this story. Just like in this story, when we can subdue the ego we are able to be in our “right mind.”

Some of you may be thinking, “Not everyone who tries to speak truth is speaking truth though. What do I do with those people?” In those cases, I try to intentionally hear what may be valuable, embrace it, and then move on.

But, the real pain comes from those closest to you offering you truth and insight into your life. We don’t like hearing it from those people the most. Because in our minds our closest friends are those who accept us as we are and would never ask us to change. Yet, the reality is those who love us well will help us become the best versions of ourselves. They will necessarily give us truth and grace and help us grow and change. Why? Because none of us have arrived.

What do you do when someone tells you the truth?

That is the question isn’t it?

Do you throw up your self-defense mechanisms and ignore it?
Do you get angry and isolate yourself?
Do you listen, take it in, and change?