18 October 2010

Ironing Out Envy

Recently I had a conversation with my friend and brother in the Lord, Mark, or johnMark as I know him best. Mark has a blog worth reading and you'll find it here. In our conversation we talked about writing styles and Mark complimented mine. We chatted a bit about writing and I realized that while he envies my wordsmithing, I envy his discipline and tenacity. Mark wants to be a better writer and he works at it. I wish my posts were read by more people and that more folks would comment on their content, but unlike Mark, I am not doing anything about it. So while our envy of one another is mutual, he has the more valuable and desirable skill.

I have written before about discipline, or the "D" word. Discipline- dreaded but coveted discipline. I make halfhearted attempts at acquiring it but never get much further than the 'want to' part. If 'want to' isn't converted to action it's pretty useless. Discipline means you actually have to get up and do something which is entirely too frightening for me. Doing something means the risk of failing. Failure is one of my biggest fears. Failure means disappointing myself, my God, my friends, my family.... virtually everyone. Notice that I put myself first on the list. That wasn't accidental. Failing for me is like having one of those dreams where you're out in public and no one is aware that you're naked until you notice it yourself. Ever have one of those dreams? I have them all the time because I am always afraid that I am less than a hair's breadth away from my total incompetency being discovered.

It would be easy at this point to employ false modesty, something I genuinely consider a plague on God's people, and say that my incompetence is not really a secret. God created us all with gifts, talents and abilities and I am no exception. Neither are you. I think it is just as sinful to deny your gifts and talents as it is to take credit for God's handiwork. Sure, sometimes we acquire skills by hard work and determination, but we're all working with the equipment God has given- whether it is raw talent or the ability to achieve it- we have what we have because of Him. We all have different limits to our abilities. Most of the time we impose false limits on ourselves. What gets in my way is fearing man more than I fear my God and desiring my comfort above using my talents as God has commanded. My besetting sins are fear and sloth.

When's the last time you heard a sermon on sloth? Too often sloth is defined as physical laziness. We are quick to quote the verses about those who don't work shouldn't eat. Physical activity is part of sloth but I would contend that the sins of presumption and apathy toward God are the more serious part of the definition. Lack of physical diligence may have your house come down around your ears but lack of spiritual diligence could cost you as much as an eternity in hell. The least you can expect for your sloth is difficulty. None of us are saved by our works, but using those gifts, talents and abilities given to us by Almighty God is how we honor Him and how we exhort one another to do the same. I think exercising our gifts, talents and abilities in service to Him increases and strengthens our faith. To quote Solomon, a sharp axe makes light work.

And so, johnMark, our mutual admiration could and should be a catalyst- iron sharpening iron. I think it's supposed to work that way within the body of Christ. We are commanded to encourage one another to use our skills, gifts and talents. We should be as quick to point out those areas where God's light shines in our brothers and sisters as we should be to confront them in their sin and folly. As we all put off the old man and put on the new, we should think about what character traits we envy in others and pray they that our sanctification includes developing those same traits to His honor and glory, not our own.

Proverbs 15:19
19 The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.

Colossians 3:16-17
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Romans 14:19
19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

1 comment:

Mark | hereiblog said...

Thank you, sister. I am encouraged by your words.

I do work at writing a little, but given my schedule (as you know) I don't have as much time to put into writing as I'd like. Maybe, though, there is another area in which I could learn more discipline in writing.

I'm not disciplined enough with the time I have to write. I'm so easily distracted it's pitiful. At times I feel like a cat who has had a string waived in front of him and I forget everything I'm doing for the string.

I always appreciate your words.

In Christ,