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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Out of Myself

Sometimes Beau will just give me a sideways look and ask, "What is wrong with you?"

This question does not come out of the blue. It is usually after a few days of a deteriorating attitude from yours truly. I get into a rut of thinking selfish or bitter thoughts and those build upon one another until I am just cantankerous. What comes out of my mouth is what is hidden in my heart- sinful thoughts that I have not "taken captive".

I can blame it on circumstances: two toddlers, little outside contact and adult conversation, cold weather that forces us to stay inside most days, cleaning up messes for the majority of my children's wake time... there is always an excuse. I have been listening to Chad preach on Romans for 2 years now. I assented to the fact that since I am a sinner still bound somewhat on earth, I will always struggle with my own personal sin issues. What I am beginning to realize recently is how deep this sin actually runs. Part of this comes from having an extra adult roommate, my sister Jessie. There are things that want to come out of my mouth that I just can't say because she is there. I want to be a good example of a Christian wife and mother to her, so I have small bits of restraint now and then. But not being able to act like the selfish, rebellious sinner that I am makes me feel more pent up at times, and I later take it out on my poor husband. It is recognizing this pattern that makes me realize how truly wicked I can be.

So Romans 7 is about the struggle of a Christian, still caught up in the flesh by proxy of being human. No wings just yet. I realize that sin will not disappear from my life, no matter how sanctified God allows me to become. But my approach to dealing with it can grow with my sanctification.

Our small group is studying a book by Paul Tripp, et al, called How People Change. This week's lesson has given me some major encouragement. As a Christian, I have the privilege to look to Christ instead of myself. Beau's question, "What is wrong with you?" has a real answer- by focusing on myself, no matter how altruistic I believe my reason is for doing so, I have missed the opportunity to rest in Christ's covering of my sin. By mulling over my problems and frustrations and the reasons why I believe I am doing things wrong so that I can be an easier person to be around, I am becoming more self-involved. Of course it is prudent to do self-evaluation of sin and character regularly; however, I am not to focus on myself as the ends to this exercise. I am to focus on Christ and the cross.

The cross, says Tripp, is not a one-time deal. While Christ's work on the cross made it possible for me to have a relationship with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, that is not all it is beneficial for. I am to look to the cross daily as a reminder of who I am before the God of the universe. Dwelling on myself elevates me over my Savior- oh dreadful thought! Dwelling on Christ helps me see that He alone is sufficient. He alone takes my burdens and my frustrations. I am graciously extricated from the tangles of this world through the profound simplicity of Christ's sacrifice. What is wrong with me is that I have been focused on me. Glory be to the Father for reminding me yet again of where my heart needs to be.

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