"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More On Motives

I'm sure I must have dealt with motives, and my inability to nail them down—or nail them to the cross. Thus, this post's title. Today's Daily Manna From The Net presented Matthew 6:19-23 from the NIV, and began with, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Instantly, I began congratulating myself for an ancient victory that demonstrated just that disregard for worldly possessions: Terry Brown's boys were all over my nearly-new Honda Accord's hood one Sunday after church. When Terry realized what they were doing, his mortification made him reprimand them harshly. Terry was a full-time student, supporting a family, yet he humbly offered to pay for the paint's repair. I assured him, however, that he needn't worry about paying anything because, except for a few minor scratches to the hood's paint, the car was fine. It took some convincing, but eventually Terry accepted my forgiveness, praising my Christian attitude about possessions. Yes, I forgave Terry and his boys, but not without some inner mourning over my nearly-new car's defacing, and I accepted his praises for my external, selfless attitude. So, hindsight being as acute as it is, these many years later I've come to realize something else probably motivated my grandiose, forgiving gesture. And that something provides no reason for pride. Throughout my life I've wasted countless opportunities for true conflict-resolution because of my phobia of confrontation. When something needed to be said, whether defending myself or confronting wrong behavior, I passionately avoided the issue. And the dynamic always boiled down to stark fear of confrontation. Most folks would be amazed at how many jobs a fear-consumed worker can lose in a lifetime. Once, a friend responded to my confession of fear-controlled relationships with 1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. That passage served to change my attitude toward fear, but it didn't change the paralyzing emotion when facing confrontation. Whether it's some jerk flipping me off from behind his self-righteous steering wheel, or a telephone tech-support customer angrily declaring I'm useless, such barbs catch hold and tear away chunks of flesh despite all my knowledge of how I should respond. Since discovering 1 John 4:18 I've "rightly divided" it exhaustively(torn it apart six ways from Sunday and put it back together again) and found not even a lame excuse for dismissing it. Yes, I'm afraid God's not letting me off the hook on this one; as much as I try to love everyone I encounter, I huddle in stark terror when anyone disapproves of me. Solutions? None. Band-Aids? A whole case of them, though I have some consolation in knowing the great Apostle Paul suffered from an unresolved thorn in his flesh. Truth-be-told, the Lord Jesus Christ shed his holy blood to wash away my sins and thorns in the psyche, even those that seem unresolved in this life. Through Christ, I am completely reconciled with the eternal, self-existent One. Yet, it is not I who live, but Christ lives within me. What an encouragement to know victory is mine, despite my short-term failures. So what, if I quiver like a lump of Jello in the face of confrontation. If it really mattered a wit, Jesus' Holy Spirit would—and will—grant me the holy boldness I so desperately crave. How do I know? The Bible told me so!

No comments: