Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bitter Roots

I'm generally of the mind that we ought to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. It runs counter to my nature to hold against someone the blessings God has given them, and I don't say this in some kind of boastful way. In reality, I recognize this personality trait as a God-given gift and over time, I've seen myself mature in the way I am able to be compassionate and caring towards others, because there was certainly a time in my life when I was not mature. When I'm able to comfort a friend, I am able to praise God that I was given the right words or actions at the right time. I know that not everyone is given the same gifts, and I appreciate that some people are able to be administrators because they have the discipline and self-control to be persistent and follow-through without procrastination (because I am not that person!).

Even though I'm not blessed with the same gifts that someone else may possess, it doesn't let me off the hook. I'm still commanded in the Word to be Holy (1 Peter 1), and to clothe myself with humility, seeking to be evermore like Christ. Which, of course, is hard. Patience has never been my strong-suit, but does that mean I can simply snap at my children and write it off as a personality flaw that I've been doomed with since birth? N-to-the-O! 

In the same way, there is no excuse for jealousy or ingratitude. And, let's be honest here, they go hand in hand. When the ugly green monster of envy rears its ugly head, what flows forth from the mouth except that which is in the heart? Ingratitude, bitterness, hate, covetousness, rudeness and idolatry just to name a few.

And you know what the worst part is? Most of those emotions, directed towards others and their circumstances, are truly being directed at God (James 3). When we whine or complain that we don't have the newest, best, biggest whatever, or when we moan and groan that we are in some circumstance in life that we wish was otherwise, what are we doing but telling God that he has not given us enough? Or that we somehow know better than He does about our own circumstances? And yet He tells us in Isaiah 55:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." We can't even fathom the depths of the Lord's mind, and yet we presume to think we know so much better.

By doing so we are only giving into our own flesh and the selfish desires we harbor in the darkness of our hearts. But if we have been redeemed, we can't have any part of this. We're reminded over and over again that we are now children of the light, and we must put off the things that we did when we were in darkness (Romans 13, John 3, Ephesians 5, James 3, 1 Peter 1, 1 Thessalonians 4, Hebrews 12... and on and on).

So what's our excuse? I am, of course, left without one. At least any legitimate one. And so it's time to clip the bitter roots and strive for contentment and love.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;   Hebrews 12:14&15

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.   Romans 12:9-16