Saturday, August 16, 2008

Finally Understanding Ourselves

"This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."~ 1 Timothy 1:15

I'm in the midst of reading a pretty awesome book. It's called "When Sinners Say I Do" by Dave Harvey. I enjoy reading books on relationships, but this book is by far the most unique and I would venture to say one of the most solid of the bunch. I was expecting another "How To" book on relationships, eager to see how yet another person views marriage- which is usually accompanied by a 10-step list. But in this book, I have found an earth-shattering simplicity that continues to change my perspective on things. 

So what's the premise? We're all sinners. I know, I know. That's kind of a "duh" statement, right?  But in considering the way we interact, I think it's quite profound. We don't actually act on this truth. Think about it. I know countless situations where I've  responded to the person as if he or she should be perfect. Thoughts like "they should know that hurts me" or "I don't deserve to be treated like that" or "did he really forget to tell me again??" This attitude communicates a very humanized and twisted theology that I tend to hold. First, it communicates that I don't know who I'm working with. First, that I am a sinner...really...so it truly is by GRACE that I am even typing these words. Second, the person across from me is a sinner LIKE ME, so I am obligated to grant them the same forgiveness as I've been shown.  And third, I don't even come close to recognizing the significance and necessity of God's grace and mercy...in fact, I don't see the power in it. At least, that's how I live. 

This misconception REALLY burdens me with time. Because I don't recognize who I am without Christ, it is difficult for me to understand who I am WITH Christ.  If I don't get the depravity-or at least live in a humble understanding of where I've been, how can I fully rejoice in where I am and even where I'm going? 

So how do I fix this? The amazing that this has brought to my attention, is really showing me how to pray. Because I can only be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, self-controlled by the power of God, the Holy Spirit. And the Bible says that we have His power within us-all those who believe. So I can call upon Him. But again this understanding that I am "sinner" saved by grace, crafts my prayer. So rather than praying "Lord, please help so and so to treat me like such and such" my prayer becomes, "Lord, what a wretched woman am I! And what's more, I realize that I am only righteous by YOUR works. Nothing I have done, or ever will do will be enough to bring from this state. In light of this truth, Lord, I call upon you for mercy. Penetrate my heart with a deep loving-kindness, that I may approach people in that mercy. Lord in every thought, word, deed, may your Spirit guide me. I trust you with this day and trust that you will be my strength. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of sin and allow me to approach people in a deeper understanding of that freedom. Amen." 

To close, the writer, Dave Harvey, took an image that Christ gave us and illustrated it further. In regards to the plank and speck analogy found in Matthew 7:3-5, he says, "Imagine a husband, railroad tie protruding from his face attempting to remove a dust particle from his wife's eye. He will have whacked her silly long before he can address the speck. Just approaching brings pain."  

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