Practical, impulsive, short-tempered. That’s me. Like Martha in the book of Luke when Jesus was visiting in the home, I’d be the one up and down making sure all ‘needs’ were met and chores were done. I read that she has been compared to the disciple Peter who felt the need to ‘scold’ Christ (gasp!) when He was trying to show them who He was and what He was about to do. What nerve! But how many times do I find myself ‘scolding’ either myself for not ‘getting it right’ or others for ‘not getting it right’? Yikes. My heart hurts and I am convicted. Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~Thomas à Kempis
This week’s resolution with God post was on the study of choosing peace over perfection. It is not an easy concept to come face to face with your faults and realize that some changes need to be made. I am not perfect and I mess up daily, but this study was helpful and the thoughts I shared on Facebook throughout the week gave me a lot to think about. I hope my thoughts don’t sound disjointed but I’ll just go ahead and share them anyway and hope God will use it. On Monday, I introduced the topic of study and here are the daily notes I wrote this past week.
Tuesday: When I expect perfection out of myself or from others, it always ends in disappointment. When I lose control over my spirt (and my tongue!) in an effort to ‘be heard’ before searching out a matter fully, progress in spiritual growth is hindered. I’m working on letting God rule my sprit (and tongue!) and not my own judgements. It is not being a ‘doormat’, but is the absolute strength from possessing Christ-like humility. Not an easy thing when the habit is to be quick with words and the need is to be understood. In order to have the peace of God rule in my heart, I need to realize that it is not about wanting to change others into my image or what I think is right, but praying for God to change all to His image – starting with me. In a world where “expression” is everything these days, it feels like swimming upstream and against the current. When I come face to face with a situation where I want to ‘lash out’ and ‘express myself’, I need to ask, “At what cost?” And, “Will my words, attitude, and actions cause me to be conformed to His image or will it hinder?”.
Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”
Wednesday: I could live guilty for things I have said in haste, even after asking forgiveness. I could ‘beat myself up’ for not getting it right. Continual self-condemnation surely will hinder. I resolve to put a priority on grace.
“When grace moves in, guilt moves out.” -Max Lucado
Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
Thursday: I have heard Dr. Phil say, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. I admit that sometimes I have no filter between my brain and my tongue.
James 3:13-18, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
“Lie not against the truth” (vs 14). Owning your burdens is half the battle. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but we are not left without hope. When I pause to pray first, there is a greater opportunity for wisdom to prevail. My plea is for grace to cross my heart and lips and that blessings do not come out from one side of my mouth and cursings from the other. Daily, God gives more grace when I humble myself and acknowledge that I need His help in changing me to His peace rather than my view of perfection. Lord, help me to be full of mercy.
Resentment: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly
Resilience: (1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
(2) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
The word ‘resentment’ came to mind in this day’s study. Expecting perfection from myself and from others always leads to disappointment and if we stay disappointed long enough, it can change into bitter resentment. In the Bible, James uses the illustration of a fountain. It cannot send sweet and bitter water at the same time. If I judge myself unfairly, it leads to resentment. If I judge others unfairly or feel judged the same, it leads to resentment.
So how do I replace the bitter with the better? How do I keep thoughts (and words) captive and live wisely? How do I give up habits of expecting perfection for habits of Godly peace? What is brittle, breaks. Brittle words break relationships. Brittle thoughts break the spirit. And brittle actions never help anything or anyone, they hinder.
When Grace is my filter, I live resilient. When Grace is my filter, I recover more quickly from difficulties. When Grace is my filter, I am able to spring back into a right heart attitude and am awake and alive to that which is good. Lord, let Your Grace be my filter for all I say and do.
I. Thessalonians 5: 21b, “…hold fast that which is good.”
-Grace will always be greater than striving for perfection.
-Grace will always be greater than my judgment of others or myself.
-Grace will always be greater than guilt.
-Grace will always be greater than the battle.
Two concepts stood out to me the most this week. Number one is that I have a choice between living resentful or learning to be resilient. In relationships, in life, in work, in ministry, I have a choice when things do not go as well as I would like. Resentment can be a bitter root. And if not pulled early, it will choke out the ability to see all that is good and right in the world.
Number two is that when I look through the eyes or filter of Grace, my view of life looks a whole lot better.
When Grace moves in, I no longer seek for perfection out of myself or others.
When Grace moves in, I am no longer rooted to resentment, but am reminded to be resilient.
When Grace moves in, I no longer serve self, but I serve the Savior.
“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?”