Saturday, March 08, 2008

Look What I Can Do!

One of the comedians on Fox Network's Mad TV created a character a number of years ago named Stewart. This actor is probably 6'5" with a robust build. He's a big guy. Stewart is supposed to be a 4 year old precocious little kid of a single mom who draws attention to himself or attempts to distract his mother away from disciplining him by squealing, "Look what I can do!" and then performing some silly feat of physical comedy.

My older kids at least are familiar with Stewart, so anytime I sense that they are trying too hard to draw attention to themselves, I mimic the actor's silly falsetto and proclaim, "Look what I can do!" in mock fashion toward my kids.

Look what I can do!

In our faith lives, it's easy to get confused in our thinking from time to time regarding the things we can do ... for God's kingdom. A commentary I was reading today on the Apostle Paul helped to solidify again my confirmation and understanding of two doctrines Paul faithfully adhered to.

Number 1 -- Our salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ alone. I don't have trouble with this one. It is firmly planted in my mind.

Number 2 -- Our righteousness comes from faith in Jesus Christ alone. That's the tricky one! It comes down to a sort of "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" argument. I know that my acts of piety are supposed to be in response to what Jesus Christ did on my behalf at Calvary. It is my love response to his love action. Yet there are times when I subconsciously am acting out the doctrine of "Look what I can do!" Instead of responding to Christ's love, I act in order to earn (or to just feel warm and cozy about myself, I admit it.)

"Oh my, what a good little Christian girl I am! I go to church and Sunday school. I pray. I teach Bible study. I tithe. I go on mission trips. I read the Bible. Woo-hoo ... look what I can do!"

If I were to insist at this point that all of my acts of supposed righteousness are nothing but filthy rags in comparison to the righteousness of Jesus Christ, as Isaiah 64:6 states, would some of you claim I was being too hard on myself? Meditate on the above verse for a minute:

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

This isn't about false humility; it's about keeping our perspective.

Actions that are inspired and motivated by our relationship with Jesus Christ are much more likely to be Spirit-enabled. Those love-response activities increase our experience of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and in the moment.

And finally ... God loves a cheerful giver. I suppose what I mean by that is, probably the only thing worse than serving God's kingdom with a "Look what I can do" attitude is to position ourselves as the suffering servant. If we can't serve with joy, enthusiasm, passion ... perhaps we need to reevaluate just why we believe this is a "ministry" that God has for us. It reminds me of when I ask my children to help me with something and they complain and bicker amongst themselves the entire time. It often leads me to resolve, "I'll just do it myself next time!"

On a positive note, I expereinced a great deal of renewal this week in my ministry with the ladies in recovery. I believe I may have wandered away from God's leading and relied a tad bit too much on my God-given abilities. You see, even using my God-given abilities by my own power instead of by the power of the Spirit can be an exercise in "Look what I can do!" In short, it demonstrates a misuse or absence of power.

Look what God can do! Yes, that's better.

Copyright 2008 Just Enough Grace Publications

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