Friday, October 09, 2009

Practice What You Preach

It's funny how when you write lofty things, you have to live them out. Your proclamations are soon put to the test, and you have to reexamine them, determine whether you really believe what you said, or whether it was just so much hot air.

As I said earlier this week, I've been discouraged with my self-counseling project for my class. But God met me through this week's lecture and through His Word. I was moved to express confidence in Christ in the midst of my failure, to declare my commitment to press on in faith--so inspired, in fact, that on Wednesday night I cranked out a three-part series about it.

And then I failed. Miserably. Today has been a hard day—and I have struggled to deal well with the failure, to repent and press on. How can I keep asking forgiveness for the same thing over and over and over? Doesn’t it indicate that my repentance isn’t real, if I just keep turning back?

I finally sat down to write the paper that's due tomorrow, and I reread words from Sinclair Ferguson’s book Children of the Living God (this week's homework assignment, and the focus of the paper):
“Many Christians go through much of their life with the prodigal’s suspicion. Their concentration is upon their sin and failure; all their thoughts are introspective. That is why (in the Greek text) John’s statement about the Father’s love [in 1 John 3:1] begins with a word calling us to lift up our eyes from ourselves and take a long look at what God has done: Behold!—look and see—the love the Father has lavished upon us!”
This quote reminds me of another I’ve heard countless times: “For every one look at your sin, take ten looks at Christ.” The principle is simple, but in my morbid introspection, I turn it on its head, drowning in sin and occasionally throwing a desperate glance toward Jesus. Ferguson’s exposition of 1 John 3:1, which I’d never heard before (the NIV really obscures it), urges me to reorient myself.

Do I believe what I said about persevering when the process is slow? Do I think that my failure negates my identity?

How many times just today have I told Elijah that the beans must stay IN the bean table? Yet at no point, however frustrated I am at finding dry beans on the the couch cushions...on every dining room chair...does he cease to be my son.

Somehow, in my discouragement, I must lift up my eyes from myself and take a long look at what God has done. After all, my hope is not in my performance; the cross is my only hope.

"SEE what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!" (1 John 3:1)

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