Monday, February 24, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 12

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of
The British Crown jewels are among the clearest, purest, unflawed gems on the planet.

Luke 6:38 (KJV)  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Yes, that passage could easily to those gems, if they were in the spiritual realm.  "Pressed down, and shaken together" certainly fits the coal to diamond process.  And, in a very special way, it fits our spiritual growth.

I cheated a little.  I didn't share that in context with the preceding verse:

Luke 6:37 (KJV)  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

I have my own conclusions about pride, shame, humility, loving, hating, forgiveness, and judging.  I believe those are tied together.  Some are attached to others like two sides of a coin.  Some will prevent others from happening.  Depending on which ones we're talking about, all of that can be either good or bad.

Before we go any further, let's throw in a "standard disclaimer".  Much of what I'm going to say is partly from my own experience.  I really don't like conclusions based solely on experiences.  That leads to subjective conclusions that are mostly garbage.  I say that because those usually come to conclusions that will take subjective experience as more valid than what the Word of God says in the original languages.  And the person spouting their subjective experience rarely bothers to check if their conclusions are Biblically sound.  

The truth is that our subjective experiences may or may not be valid beyond the one time we experienced them.  And they may be more general than just our own one time experience.  But neither is true unless that experience can actually be shown to be valid more than once and lines up with more than one verse in the Bible.  There seem to be too many books espousing a doctrine based on a one time personal experience, with little or no Biblical backing.  And it leaves out one other reality.  God, in His sovereignty, may have done something that's valid only in that one instant of time, because He loved us enough to cover our sorry backsides because the consequences wouldn't have taught us anything worthwhile.

Anything we say, we try to demonstrate how it fits into reality.  You're free to agree or disagree, as you see fit.  In fact, if we don't satisfactorily prove our points, you'd probably be wise to disagree. We certainly don't want anyone (including ourselves) creating doctrines based on one experience or one Bible verse.  Having said that, we'll get off our soapbox and back to the subject at hand.

It's often said that pride and humility are opposites.  And they're not.  Pride communicates that we're better either than others or a negative evaluation of ourselves.  If we get to have longer conversations with those we think are displaying pride, we see something interesting.  When someone is busy trying to point out the error of your ways and get you to do things their way, they're not really trying to prove you wrong.  They're fulfilling a need to prove themselves right.  Their being right compensates for what may only be a subconscious recognition of some area where they think they fall short.

If we want a Biblical example of that, we only need to look at the Pharisees.  Jesus called them vipers because they placed a ton of extra requirements on the Israelites  they couldn't possibly fully comply with and that did little more than set up barriers between the people and God.  And look at what happens, through the whole process.

A lack of self worth (despite the position the Pharisees held) created a lack of love for themselves and a sense of insecurity.  Their power lust came out of that, too.  In order to validate their own value, they had a need to diminish the value of others.  Which brought in a judgemental spirit and prevented any real forgiveness for themselves or others.  Their use of power by creating that whole external extra set of laws was really a way to compensate for their own negative self image.

When we think of Matthew 22:37-40, we know the answer.  Love God, then love others.  If we become focused on ourselves, it's like looking at our face in a magnifying mirror.  Every pore, every line, every pockmark, every fault is magnified to a point where it can't possibly look good.  Slap on extra laws as makeup.  Add the eyeliner of legalism and judgmentalism for effect.  But, when we focus on God and others, we're no longer our own focus.  And our condition can't be wrongly magnified by the Accuser.  Instead of covering up the things that make us insecure, we operate in God's loving us despite our shortcomings.

In my own life, there were a lot of times I was on the wrong side of that equation.  And, after the sharing done by Hank Jones, mentioned in our previous post, you'd think that would change.  But, to describe it in terms of the parables, the soil was rock hard from being spiritually dry for so long.  Seeds were planted, but much more of the water of life was needed to soften the soil so they could properly grow.

I was still an alcoholic, still on a downward slide.  I drank my way out of my last radio job.  I settled down enough to become what's termed a functional alcoholic, which allowed me to finish college and enter the business world.  It would take more disappointments, both for me and by me, before I'd start recognizing that my life needed to change.  But I was getting good at what I see in Phariseeism.  I had a love/hate relationship with myself, had pride trying to push out the growing shame in myself, and judged myself with little forgiveness.  I was doing everything I could to convince myself and others that I was better than I was.  At the same time, internally, I was judging myself worse than anyone else possibly could.

That sounds like a pretty dire situation.  And it was.  But it was also getting me to the point of making two very important decisions in my life.  So, it was also good.  I would soon start learning what true humility is, who I could really be, and what real relationships were.  But thinking about that makes me need to ask.  What's your relationship with yourself, today?  And, more importantly, what's your relationship with God?  Those are important things to consider.  And, if you don't like the answers, know that both can be fixed.

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