The Inside Job

Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

The juxtapositions of life astound me.    Just take a look around. I’m sure you will see them in yours as well.   Here are a couple.

I have a very close friend who is married, has teenagers, a loving husband and everything for which to live.  She has pancreatic cancer and has been told she has 18 months to live.  Well, I suppose that’s now down to 16 months.   She is precious, adorable, happy, full of the love of Christ and desperately wants to live a long time.    What she would give to not have this sickness in her body.  What she would give to be able to watch her own children turn into adults.  She sees so much value in her life. She doesn’t want to lose it.  Yet, it appears she can’t have it. (Dear Lord, a miracle please.)

I have another friend who recently chose to attempt to take his own life.   in fact, it was me who saw his obscure and complicated puzzle of a post on Facebook and called the police in another city to seek him out and rescue him before it was too late.  It wasn’t too late, thank God, and he still lives.  I think he’s doing well.  But one never knows.   I see the pain he is in and how much he doesn’t value his life.   He doesn’t know the Lord and doesn’t think he needs to.  He just wants it all to be over.   He sees no value to his life. He wants to lose it. Yet, it’s his free and clear.

One desperately fights for life but is facing losing it.  One doesn’t want life and wishes he didn’t have his.   What a tragic juxtaposition.

Also in my life, I see a precious couple desperately wanting more time together but she is dying of cancer, in her late 20’s.   Her husband adores her and would do anything to not be losing her, to be able to have children with her and to live a long and Christ centered life.   They  are incredibly sad at the latest doctor’s report.   Yet they hold onto the light, and each other, knowing that God will see them through and they will be together in heaven one day, if the Lord doesn’t rescue her soon. (Dear Lord, please.)  They are surrendered to Him.  They see so much value in their marriage.  They would do anything to keep it, to protect it.

At the exact same time, there are so many Christian couples who have no health problems, no tragedies, that are willing to throw marriage away instead of allowing God to break them and mold them into His image- which is the ultimate purpose for marriage.  They rationalize with the same exact lies the enemy has promoted since time began, they opt out of their vows, staring at specks,  to avoid facing the log in their own eye and instead put a dagger through their children’s hearts, wounding forever. (This is the hardest reality to face after all the dust has settled.) The real kicker is that, as they will generally see later, the issue wasn’t who their spouse was but whether or not they were both willing to surrender to God’s will, no matter the cost.  And typically the cost is tough work, painful self-examination, and forgiveness. They will have to do the work with the next spouse if they want it to work. It’s not a matter of not doing the work.  It’s a matter of how much damage you create before you become willing to do the work.   God makes no mistakes.  Yet, they throw it away.  They see no value in their marriage. They choose their way, not His, in order to get what they want.

What the first couple values- passionately and profoundly, the second couple discards as though it were trash, all the while deeply injuring their own children.   Tragic.

Why do those who value life and marriage have to lose them?   That’s complicated and mysterious and a matter of trust.

Why do those who don’t value life and marriage as God does, throw it away?   Well, that’s an easier answer.   Pride.

Pride is the most egregious of all sin.   Pride says that we are god and He is not.

On the one hand, pride says that we are better than God says we are and we deserve more than we have, we deserve better.   But what we have is what He’s given us.  It says we don’t have to submit ourselves to His exposing, painful examination of our own hearts because someone else has specks- or logs.   Pride says that we should not be wherever we are in life, as though God is not the one who allowed us to be in this place.  It says we deserve more than we have. But we don’t. What we deserve is death. Even our breath is a gift.  We are exactly where God has us, for a reason. (I’m not talking about abusive situations where its life and death or people are being physically injured here.  Those are circumstances that warrant changing our environment.)  He wants us to know Him more.  And sometimes He knows that it’s only in intense fire that we are refined. We are not entitled to an easy life.  Hopping out of the fire just means He will find another fire because He will never give up on our refinement.   And I hate to say this, but the second fire is generally hotter than the first.   And it’s either face the fire or be stuck, not knowing Him one more bit.   Many do choose this, sadly.  Many refuse to evolve or change.  Many never choose to face themselves.  This is tragedy.

Pride is also saying we are less than He says we are. But we aren’t.  We are worth Jesus dying on a cross. Pride says that we don’t measure up, that we are not good enough, that we are a victim in this life and we have no responsibility for our own emotional condition. But we are not a victim.  We are responsible for our own reactions to life and responsible to believe God, not our thoughts or feelings.  It says we are failures who don’t deserve anything. If that’s true, then the cross has no meaning.  Insecurity drives our failures.  It places undue burden on other people because it becomes their responsibility to make us feel like we are worth something. No one is capable of filling God’s shoes.    It’s void of any foundational sense of worth and therefore we have no peace.  We have no peace because we truly haven’t received the truth of who Christ says we are.  We don’t believe Him.  Pride says we are unacceptable even though Christ says we are fully accepted.   This is tragedy.

Pride simply says we do not believe God.   And pride comes before a fall.    And even that is God’s gift.

Falling can be our best chance at discovering our need of God because it can cause us to find humility.    Pain can be the best friend we could ever have.  All I can say is, let’s pray for humility and so minimize the amount of pain we inflict into the lives of others and into our own lives in order for God to accomplish His work in us.

Some people never break and that’s the biggest tragedy of all. For some it takes losing one marriage, for some it takes two.  For some they never have a good marriage because they won’t face themselves. Again, tragic.

Takeaway:    Life isn’t fair and sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense.    We are never going to understand everything.  But this we must understand if we want to minimize the amount of pain in our lives.  We must be humble, willing to do heart wrenching self-examination, willing for the refiner’s fire to engulf us, willing to feel the pain of the truth, in order to know who God is and who we are not. We have to be willing to choose to believe what God says, even when nothing in us believes it.  We have to make that choice and hold our own thoughts captive.  This is true faith.  It’s very rare that God is calling us to change the outside.   Very rare, indeed.  It’s the inside He’s trying to change.   We need to not jump out of the fire because the next fire is generally even hotter.  

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I pray for humility. I pray to see life through Your eyes.  Please forgive any pride in me and turn any stony part of my heart to flesh.   Please help me to not look for an outside change in my life if what you are wanting is an inside change, lest I cause more unnecessary pain to those I love and to myself.  Cause me to be willing to examine my heart and see all that is in me that is not of you.   Lord, help me to get this log out of my eye.   And help me to choose what You have said over what I feel.  I choose to believe you, even when it opposes everything that feels true to me.  

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