An email from my husband to a woman we know. I think I was copied on it because he so dearly knows the nature of my heart... he knew I needed to hear this today.
As I was praying and reading the Word today I was cut to the heart by a passage in James. It was nothing that I did not know, but he was tracing our behavior back to our desires. He was talking about pride as the root of sinful behavior. My heart so quickly chills with true love towards God and I grow impatient and frusterated easily. I am reminded that I am an empty jar of clay and that I need God to refill me continually. Today I saw how easily pride leads to discontentment and restlessness. As I trace anxiety back to its roots I find the source lying in a prideful assumption that I deserve certain things. I deserve a certain lifestyle, a certain reputation. Rather than believing that God can care for me in all circumstances I am quick to believe that I need to have something in my life to be stable. When I succumb to that mindset, even the smallest things can steal my joy. I sometimes feel resentful as a pastor that I can't do my job unless my heart is right with God. That may seem silly, but I would rather think that I can control my own emotions and that I have a right to be grumpy or bitter. As I meditated on that this morning it occured to me that in reality none of us have the right to our own emotions. If we belong to Christ, we belong to him body and soul. None of us have a right to withold the fruit of the Spirit that God wants to see in his children. Gal 2:22 talks about the Spirit warring against sinful nature. The Spirit wants to produce "peace love joy patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self control." Our sinful nature would get in the way. Our main duty as Christians is to kill the sinful nature through the hard work of repentance. In practice for me that means following my sin back to the source. Why am I frusterated...? As I mentioned before, often the result is a prideful attempt to find my security in something other than God or a prideful attempt to think I am better than others and that I deserve to have certain things in my life.
I find Gal 2:22 to be such good news. Joy and peace and self control are fruit of the Spirit. We cannot produce them on our own by sheer will power, and we are not expected to. Rather through repentance (see Gal 5:24) we remove the barriers to the Spirit producing fruit in us. We also need to spend time dwelling in Christ (john 15). As we read his word and pray for his grace and participate in the life of the church, the Spirit does what we cannot do on our own. This is wonderfully good news. I always feel more frusterated when I know that I am bitter, yet I feel so unable to "make myself happy."
MK (aka huge fan of Jack Miller... )