December 12, 2014

A most incredible mind

One of the most destructive things I ever said to my children is, “You make me so mad” or “You make me so happy.” By doing this, I reinforced the notion that they are responsible for my emotional well-being. Of course that philosophy is quickly converted to their own lives and they make everyone else responsible for how they feel, what they do, and the mistakes they make.

Our son had a t-shirt that said “San Andreas” on the front, and on the back, “It’s not my fault.” I used to think it was a cute pun, but have since changed my mind. It’s important to own up to what is our fault. Otherwise, if the problem lies in the lap of others, then we are stuck with it. Unless I can say this is my fault, I cannot confess it or be forgiven and cleansed by God. I’m also helpless to do anything about it and am making myself a victim.

Worse yet, when I start thinking I’m a victim, I easily become angry at God for “letting this happen to me,” passing the buck from me, to “whoever did this,” and then to God. It is as the writer of Proverbs says, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3)

All of this started with the first sin. Eve blamed the snake who told her to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam blamed Eve who invited him to eat it with her, but he added, “the woman You gave me” as he offered his puny excuse to God, as if God hadn’t made Eve, none of this would have happened.

If I could put a trail on my complaining, excuses and blame-shifting, all of it would eventually wind its way back to God. If God hadn’t allowed this . . .  if God had of done things differently . . .  if God gave me more courage, or wisdom, or whatever, then I’d be better off.

Jesus never did any of that. He knew the Cross was before Him. He prayed that it would not happen, but He also said, “Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.” When the soldiers drove the nails into His hands and feet, He said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

Speaking to those who were suffering without deserving it, Peter reminded them: “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:19–23)

All good things come from the hand of God: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) When good comes, do I pat myself on the back instead of praising God? Sometimes. But when bad comes, particularly when it is my fault, do I point my fingers at me? Or do I moan and complain as if someone else or even God is responsible for my folly?

Thinking with the mind of Christ means trusting God when things go well, and trusting God when they don’t. it means no whining, blame-shifting, or what-iffing. It means taking life as it comes, perhaps on my knees, but not with anxiety, bitterness, or frustration. Truly, Jesus has a most incredible mind!

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