Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mars & Venus

Spent the last few weeks having several quarrels with a good friend. (Several because my short attention span meant I usually forgot what we quarrelled about. Sometimes I even forgot we had quarrelled.) It was your classic quarrel scenario: I thought I was in the right, GF thought he was in the right, none of us wanted to give in, tempers flared, we each thought only to protect our own prideā€¦ It was an unpleasant hurtful display of our personal sinfulness. Someone ought to write a book entitled "Some people are from Mars, Other people are from Venus, but the real problem is the Sin".

Last night, I was harshly reminded of the words of James 4:1-2: "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight."

Sure, we have different styles of communication due to our innate personalities and upbringing, nature and nurture. But the content of our communication, the words that come out of our mouths, overflow from our hearts. Said Jesus,"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:43-45). By God's grace, we didn't launch personal attacks at each other. Still, I am utterly ashamed that even with the knowledge of God in my head, I in my selfishness am still a bad tree with bad fruit. The words that came out of my mouth overflowed from the ungodly desires of my sinful heart: I wanted to be loved and served.

Yet, no where in does God say we have such rights vis-a-vis our brothers and sisters. No where are we allowed to demand that another person love and serve us. What we are told is that the responsibility is ours to love and serve one another. We cannot demand this from one another.

And so in all this, I feel like a little shite.

But I know that Christ has shone a light into my sin-darkened heart. He has come to save me from ultimate judgement and also from the rule of sin in my life. I was once a slave to sin, now I am set free from sin and am a slave to righteousness (Romans 6). And my continuing change of mindset to be more and more God-like will not be due to weekly brainwashing nor fancy behaviour modification techniques nor good willpower. The root of the problem is not in my behaviour but in my heart, so it can only be by the Spirit working in me, as God promised, to help me to "will and to act according to his good purpose" as I work out my salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). And I pray that my heart will keep more and more in step with the Spirit so that in overflow, my speech will be characterised by "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).

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