Thursday, July 13

What Took You So Long?

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil. --Proverbs 13: 18-19 (NIV)

I'm stubborn. Upon reading that admission, my husband and parents are likely gasping in mock disbelief. When I was little, I was so stubborn that I refused to accept help in extracting very loose baby teeth--even to the point where they would border on infection. I wish I could say that those days are behind me. However, even as an adult I have at times managed to turn my mule-like behavior into an art form.

The root of stubbornness is selfishness and self-importance. These two unappealing characterizations are a mere stone's throw away from blatant sinfulness. At first glance that comparison seems harsh--even to me--but it's a harsh reality with which we must all come to grips. Like many people, my ego would like to believe that mere selfish actions or attitudes aren't as bad on the non-existent "sin scale" like murder or blasphemy. However, by putting myself, my will, my whims and my desires in such an elevated position of importance, I am not able to focus wholly on God.

Stubbornness is a double-whammy when it comes to interfering with God's intentions for a relationship with him. First, it breaks the greatest commandment which Jesus said is "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength" (Mark 12:30). Second, it gives the enemy a foothold. Satan has a way of convincing us that self-importance and its close cousin, self-reliance, are apt substitutes for the savior that is Jesus Christ.

Some people hesitate to make a commitment to Christ because they feel unworthy of the gift of grace. Truly we are all unworthy. However, I'm inclined to believe that the vast majority of us are just too stubborn to accept the reality that our eternal security is dependent on someone other than ourselves, namely, Jesus. My mom once said that she is glad she was brought up in a home where the necessity of salvation was emphasized throughout her childhood. Why? As she once put it, "I'm too stubborn to have bought into it as an adult."

Salvation is not something to "buy into." The price has already been paid in the shed blood of God's one and only Son. Rejecting the gift of grace (God's righteousness at Christ's expense), is the worst kind of fool-hardy stubbornness and selfishness. I am awed by the fact that God sought me out, stubborn streak and all, to rescue me from the consequences of my sinfulness. It's a good thing that God is so patient since much of his creation is so stubborn. I'm pretty sure that when I became a Christian, God must have smiled, opened his loving arms to me and said "what took you so long?"

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