Real Sharing…When Man Listens by Cecil Rose for The Oxford Group
This way of living, which breaks down barriers and builds up trust, can be conveniently described in one word–Sharing.
Sharing can be defined as being honest with other people about yourself. It means being willing (for God’s purposes) to give the whole of yourself to anyone. It does not mean telling everything about yourself to everybody you meet. It does mean being willing to tell anything to anyone–if God shows you that your sharing can be useful in establishing a new and deeper relationship, or in helping another person to find God.
Real sharing can be very costly. If some of us are to restore the right relationship with those round us –perhaps a husband, a wife, a child; perhaps those who work with or for us; perhaps someone who attends the same Church–it will mean facing crucifixion. To let them see what we are really like will cost no less. And if we are going to let God take us right into the lives of other people, with the love that pours itself out to them, it will mean the Cross again. To share Himself with the world meant that for Christ. The price of redeeming relationships with men and women is always the Cross.
Sharing has to be learnt. We cannot really make ourselves known to others until we have been introduced to ourselves, and one of the serious effects of our reserve and spiritual isolation is that we have become strangers to our own souls. God has to bring us right out into the light, where we can see ourselves stripped of self-deception and face thee naked truth about our actions, our thoughts and our motives.
One of God’s most effective ways of introducing us to ourselves is to send us to another person, whom we can trust, to tell them the whole truth about our lives as far as we know it. Quite apart from the fact that it is a healthy and liberating thing to unburden ourselves, the necessity of putting into words to another person the hard facts about our sin makes us see it more clearly and hate it more thoroughly. Besides which, the other person will probably see things in us to which we are blind, and will help us to see them. God has given us this invaluable gift of fellowship as one of the most effective means to real self-knowledge, penitence, and new life and we lose something vital if we shrink from the humiliating but liberating experience.
If we are to go on being honest with others we must go on being honest with ourselves. Life moves ahead and fresh discoveries about ourselves have to be made, fresh difficulties faced, or sins confessed. That is why we must seek frequent fellowship of the kind in which we can talk over these discoveries without reserve. If we cannot find this quality of fellowship with several people, we can begin with one, so long as we do not remain content with one. Sharing of this kind is thoroughly wholesome if it is seen as a means of keeping spiritually fit and free for God’s use, and if it issues in practical steps to put right what is wrong. It keeps the system free from any accumulation of poisons.
It is as we learn in this way to be honest with ourselves and others, to take off the mask and drop the pose, to step out from behind our reserve and pride, that we become citizens of God’s new world–men and women around whom a new honesty and trust begins to grow.
When we learn to share, each of us becomes a living cell in that new world
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