Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Objective Measures, Part Deux

Yesterday I argued that there are a couple of objective measures in the spiritual life that help us determine how we're really doing.  One is the keeping track of our treasure (whatever form it might be, but especially and uniquely our spending) to determine the state of our hearts.  In my particular ministry context of suburbia, it's a good one to keep handy and steadily employed.

The second is how we deal with trials.  Peter talks about trials as walking through fire, being refined as you go.  There are multiple other images to go with that, but here's the essence of it:  how we respond when trials come is an objective measure of the state of our spiritual lives, of our hearts.

If we respond with griping, we are probably struggling with entitlement.

If we respond with multiple Facebook posts about how hard our lives are, we are worshiping the idol of attention.

If we respond with withdrawal, we are living with and in anger - at God, at ourselves, at our spouse, at our kids, etc.

If we respond with blame, we are either unwilling to accept our part (whatever it might be, big or small) or we are struggling with the victim mentality.

If we respond with joy, then our hearts are in pretty good shape.  So Paul (Romans 5) and James (James 1) both command us to rejoice in our trials.  And if that's what comes out of our hearts when trials come, we're in good shape.  

No, it may not come at first.  The Lord knows I'm prone to griping and withdrawing.  But an objective measure of the state of your heart is whether joy is present in trial.  It's never because of the trial itself.  It's always because of what the trial is working in us, uniquely the transformation of our hearts.

Treasure and Trials.  Two gifts (though not always wanted) to help us self-diagnose our hearts.  Strange gifts.  But good ones.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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