Sunday, August 10, 2008
By Ramone - August 8, 2008
This came the other night and I can't remember exactly how or in what context, but it shows those times that I am doing (or trying to do) something for God, and find myself looking foolish, going too far, saying something inappropriate or out of timing.... and yet God brings His glory out of it. Sometimes (or often) I end up having to apologize or repent. It kills my pride, and I don't look sparkling, but God uses this very thing to reveal His glory. Thank You, Lord!
"You must increaseI think Paul may have felt the same way at times. Apparently there were a lot of rumors going back and forth about him in the city of Corinth, where he helped start the church there. Some people were sinning and indulging in bad things, and he tried to discipline them. Reading the last parts of his second letter to them, you can see how emotional and at his wits end he feels about them. He doesn't want any bad blood or fights. In the midst of this he said something interesting:
I must decrease, Lord
I'll bow down
And You will be adored"
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.I think that Paul knew he might "lose it" if he went there and had it out with them. And God would have to "humble" him. He might have to repent for going overboard or coming down too hard, even though the Corinthians might have driven him to it. Yet ultimately he knew that whatever happened, Christ would be exalted, even through this kind of personal failing that needed humbling.
(2 Corinthians 12:20-21)
"For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth."Scripture rightly declares that those who hope and rest in God "will not be ashamed", and it's true. He takes away our shame. But this doesn't mean we will never look stupid for what we've done. What it means is that His love will overflow in us, and as we die to being afraid of what others think, shame will have no more power to hurt us. Seeing who we are in Daddy's eyes will free us from the power of being shamed in mens' eyes, and from the power of being shamed in our own eyes.
- 2 Corinthians 13:8
So sometimes He calls us to do the very thing that would kill our pride, that would make us look shameful to people we don't want to be ashamed in front of (sometimes that's us ourselves). Most often this takes the form of repentance, admitting we were wrong, apologizing, and things in similar pride-killing veins. At times He calls us to "drink the cup of shame" and find freedom from it in His love. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Great Divorce, that,
"An hour hence and you will not care. A day hence and you will laugh at it. Don't you remember [there are] things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right? Shame is like that. If you will accept it--if you will drink the cup to the bottom--you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds."We want to be seen for our good points, not for our bad points. But He takes our weaknesses and tells us not to be ashamed of them. In His love we find release, freedom, affirmation and healing. It's not others' view of us that matters, nor our own view of us, but rather His view of us. To help us know this, and to spread His glory and healing love, we are sometimes laid low in our own eyes or in the eyes of others. But fixing our eyes on Him, how we "look" becomes less and less important, and what seemed like "weakness" in our eyes or in others' eyes begins to become strength. As we are seen "naked" (so to speak), we realize we have nothing and others see it, too. And we see more and more that He is everything! And they see it, too. Thank You, God!
He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10