Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Leveling the Playing Field

Whenever my husband and I try to save a few dollars by buying a piece of furniture from IKEA or skip on paying the assembly fee for a new grill-- we have a deal. I am the one in charge of following the directions and he is in charge of doing the labor.

It's not that he can't follow the directions, it is just that he seems to believe he should intrinsically know how to fashion a contraption for grilling meat from the recesses of his manly soul. He subconsiouly feels like he shouldn't need a manual. And so I step in, and read it for him- for some reason that seems like a happy medium.

I have learned that following directions is of great importance in life- it allows you to assemble things that will last instead of assembling things that are bound to fall apart when you most want to use them.

I have been a part of Reach's Summer Bible Reading Plan for the last few days- and while I want to make excuses for not doing it with two littles- it's amazing how God carves out these little slots of quiet time where I hear Him whisper that I need to get my exhausted butt in the Word.

This morning I read Psalms 5&6, Matthew 3, and Romans 2- and some of the verses that stuck out to me seemed worth sharing. God took each piece of scripture from these seemingly disconnected books of the Bible and taught me something profound.

First, I learned in Psalms that it is OK to ask God to lead you and make his way known to you.

Psalm 5:8 - Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness...make your way straight before me. 

Just like my husband's tendency to ignore the manual, I too have somehow let myself believe that I should just intrinsically know how to do this Christian thing. And so I feel like I shouldn't ask God to lead me or make his way known to me. But here, even David- who was a man after God's own heart- asked God to make things clearer to him. To S-P-E-L-L it out. 

Then in Matthew 3:10 things get a bit hairier. John the Baptist is telling the "fake" religious leaders of the day who have come to be baptized that 'Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.' John is hitting this common heart issue- my tendency to check the right 'box' even though my heart may be far from the repentance that a life of baptism requires.

Sometimes it is hard to see the bad fruit in our lives- and in my case, even harder to see and continue bearing the good fruit if it becomes duty instead of priveledge. We just assume that if there isn't a ton of ugly sin piling up on the floor that we are doing just fine. It is perfectly OK to ask God to reveal to us where the good fruit is in our lives, so that we will be encouraged to continue to do those things that glorifies God and brings him joy. 

And then Romans 2:1 bluntly lays it out there: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 

God sees us through the lens of our hearts. He sees the inside- and that should completely free us if we truly love him even though we are desperately flawed. But instead- I know in my life- I haven't focused on my own problems, but have instead created my own spiritual hierarchy in order to make myself feel like I'm not that bad. The truth? I am that bad. I am even worse than those who judge outwardly.

Leave it to a sinner to take the level playing field that God has created in his wisdom and turn it into mountain riddled with moguls, cliffs, and valleys. My human nature wants to believe the following:

1) I don't need a manual about how to plant my life's tree.
2) I don't need to pay attention to the "fruit" my life is producing.
3) I am totally allowed to judge my neighbor's garden in the shadow of my own branches.

Theses verses tell me the truth:

1) I do need to ask God to lead me- and He will!
2) I do need to ask him to reveal to me what the good and bad fruit is in my life.
3) I need to keep my own cotton-picking-mitts on my side of the fence and not pick my neighbor's fruit apart.

In love,

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