Friday, 21 March 2014

My Threshold and God’s

C.S. Lewis
“It is no good passing this over with some vague, general admission such as "Of course, I know I have my faults." It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives others the same feeling of despair which their flaws give you.” C.S. Lewis

This blog may sound like a “stream of consciousness” (a narrative device used in literature "to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind).  Of course that could be said of most of my blogs.  In case you miss the point, this one is on forgiveness.

Over the years what I considered as being noble, i.e. overlooking someone’s behavior, telling myself that I was a forgiving person was a lie.   I came to realize that it was cowardice on my part.  I didn’t overlook their behavior, I avoided confronting it.  This is a flaw that prevents growth on my part and possibly jeopardizes the relationship with the offending party.

Which brings me to question “what is my threshold?”  At what point is someone’s behavior, or character flaw important enough to me and my future relationship with that person to confront them?  For a non-confrontational person to take another person on, the infraction must be important and the specific relationship equally important.

Then I came across an excerpt from a book or article by C.S. Lewis entitled “the Trouble with “X”.  The quote above is extracted from that text.  This article points to my need to focus on my flaws and not my brothers.  Regardless how grievous my brother’s behavior may be it doesn’t compare to how grievous my behavior is to God.

The bottom line seems to be that until I recognize that my sin is so much deeper than that of my brother, I’m will be unwilling to forgive him or her.  It is only when I see my flaws as God sees them that I realize how short of the mark I fall, that God’s Threshold for my sin is limitless.

This is a little like taking the plank out of my own eye before I get too concerned with the spec in yours.

So where on earth am I going with all this rhetoric?  All too often when a couple comes to me for counseling all they can remember are the hurts and wounds that have been inflicted over time. Each feels like a victim.  They either can’t forgive, won’t forgive, or pay lip service to forgiving when they have not.  What is lacking is a true understanding of how despicable our sins are to a holy God.  Until we can recognize that He paid an enormous price to forgive my sins which are far greater than those committed against me, I will have a hardened heart.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

God’s Plan for Mentoring You - Part II

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

Part I of this blog (March 17, 2017) suggested that sometimes the things that are hardest in life are the most beneficial.  It also suggested that most of us tend to grow more spiritually in times of adversity than when things are calm.  As stated I believe that part of God’s plan for our sanctification (becoming more like His Son) involves our spouse.  No one is in a better position to see us at our best and our worst.  No one on earth should love us more than our husband/wife.  In the Garden when God created a “helper” for Adam He created one who could make up for the deficiencies in Adam (The Hebrew word ezer).  Each being created in the image of God, each having some unique characteristics.  This is a great example of the old cliché the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  A husband and wife can definitely be better together.

Part I offered an approach for newly married couples to try.  If you have been married for a number of years and have not viewed each other’s input as a positive resource then this approach will be a little more challenging.  A wife’s insights might come across as nagging or being critical.  A husband’s attempt to help his wife grow might be construed as dissatisfaction. 

Step number one is to accept the premise that it is God who ultimately brought you together and that He plans to use your differences, both positive and negative, for the purpose of becoming more like God’s Son.

Step two.  Love must be the lead foot followed closely by trust.  There is no room for sarcasm, criticism, or personal agendas.  In the area of spiritual growth or how I can be a better husband, who could give me better insight than my wife.  I value her opinion, and I see in her qualities that I do not possess.   Hopefully my wife is willing to share in this experiment of mentoring one another, i.e. helping each other to become more like Christ.

Some ground rules you may want to set:

1)     Talk about something recent, don’t focus on ancient history.

2)     Initially keep the time limit shore, i.e. 20 minutes total.

3)     Take turns each week going first.

4)     Stay focused, on one topic

5)     Talk calmly, saying only that which is helpful for building each other up. Ephesians 4:29.

6)     Do not stop talking about an issue until you can both clearly articulate the others point of view even if it takes several sessions.

7)     Start and end with prayer.

8)     Begin with subjects that are less controversial, easier to address.

Monday, 17 March 2014

God’s Plan for Mentoring You - Part I

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. 1Timothy 1:5

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth 1Corinthians 13:6

 Sometimes the things that are hardest in life are the most beneficial.  Without question I tend to grow more spiritually in times of adversity than when things are calm.  I truly believe that part of God’s plan for our sanctification (becoming more like His Son) involves our spouse.  No one is in a better position to see us at our best and our worst.  No one on earth should love us more than our husband/wife.  In the Garden when God created a “helper” for Adam He created one who could make up for the deficiencies in Adam (The Greek work ezer).  Each being created in the image of God, each having some unique characteristics.  This is a great example of the old cliché the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  A husband and wife can definitely be better together.

The problem, as I see it, is that if you didn’t start your married life giving each other permission to speak into the lives of one another this will come across as far more theoretical than practical.  A wife’s insights might come across as nagging or being critical.  A husband’s attempt to help his wife grow might be construed as dissatisfaction.  Your motives will be in question if over the years you have not accepted God’s use of your spouse as being part of His plan for your development.

Love must be the lead foot followed closely by trust.  If I’m convinced that next to God my wife loves me more than anyone on earth (and I am) and I trust her implicitly (which I do) then I welcome her suggestions, particularly in the area of spiritual growth or how I can be a better husband.  I value her opinion, and I see in her qualities that I do not possess.   Ideally we can mentor one another, helping each other to become more Christlike.

So if you are newly married I would suggest that you try something my wife and I did from week one.  We set aside the first thing Saturday morning for the sole purpose of discussing anything that may have come up during the week that didn’t get resolved to our satisfaction.

If you have been married for some time and developed some bad habits, i.e. lack of trust, complaining, nagging and demonstrating dissatisfaction, then this will be a steep hill to climb BUT with God all things are possible.  If you are in this category please see the post for March 19, 2014.