Friday, May 10, 2013

“It's me, it's me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer”

How many of you are familiar with that classic hymn?  It's quite simple, a children's song even, but it's very profound because I think for most of us, our default mindset is “It's you, it's you, it's you, oh friend/spouse/neighbor, standing in the need of prayer!”  

How many arguments have we participated in, that look like this:
“You need to change this habit, it's wrong.” 
“Talk to the mirror! YOU need to change that habit you're using right now. THEN we can talk about me.” 
“No, you're just dodging the issue now. I'm not perfect, but right now we need to look at the character issue you are displaying right now, because that's the real problem right now.” 
(etc, etc, etc).

Now, obviously, it's most efficient to talk about one person at a time, and so someone's faults are going to be discussed first, even if it's the other person.  

But the problem is when we internally insist that the other person is the only person who needs to change without asking God for a reality check on our own attitude, or when we know that we are acting fleshly but internally insist that the other person needs to change first.

Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 7:

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:3-5

In a situation when someone wrongs us or does things in a sub-optimal way, we can either seek God in regard to our own attitude and actions first, or we can give into the feeling that we cannot possibly be happy, content or peaceful in life until the offender changes. If we take that second option, we will proceed to apply massive amounts of pressure on the other person to change and become more godly.  But this is one situation where "You first!" is not the best option.

And what is the opposite of trying to apply God's Word to other people first? I'll tell you! The opposite is this:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:44

Okay, so this man finds the treasure, and the first thing he does with it is hide it so that no one else gets to it first.  That's right, he doesn't try to apply it to other people first, he goes and *hides it* in order to make sure that he'll be the first one to take advantage of it.

This is a beautiful analogy for the power of the gospel and God's Word in our own life. It's it the thing of ultimate value in life; it makes every part of life worthwhile; it's what gives us joy. When that idea is internalized and we recognize this treasure for what it is, then in every difficult situation we will find ourselves rushing to apply the treasure to our lives first.

And then, we will find our cup of joy overflowing (for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace...), and will share it readily with others.  :D

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" Ephesians 1:3


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