7.26.2018

SERVING is better than SULKING!

Today the Lord reminded me of something important as I sat in a hospital room with a friend whose child was sound asleep in a hospital crib.
Serving others can be the perfect anecdote for a restless, struggling, and even sinful heart.

It is far too easy to focus on Self on a normal day, let alone when you feel wronged, cheated, offended, or wounded by another. 
Our thoughts then become completely self-focused as we rehearse what was said, what was done, why we are victims, and how the other person should be held accountable for their actions. 
All knowledge of our own sin and past mistakes flee from our thoughts as we nurse our wounds and dole out judgment on the one who wronged us. It's like looking in a mirror that reveals the image of our offender, rather than ourselves. We hide behind their deeds, their errors, and their sins - all the while forgetting that our own errors and sins are lurking within us.

Sulking.
Pity-Parties.
Eeyore "poor me" moments. 
Call them what we will, but we must call them sin.
For what is sulking other than selfishness? I was wronged. I am upset. I am offended. I am hurt. I I I I I! 
Yes, sometimes we are 100% innocent. We played no part in the drama. Our hands are clean. Someone hurt us, attacked us, and sinned against us. It must be addressed, and hopefully, repentance takes place and the relationship is restored.
There is, however, nothing in Scripture that supports the believer dwelling on SELF. We are commanded to love our enemies and forgive those who persecute us. Even when we are innocent.

But often, we swim and sulk in the pools of self-pity because we aren't getting what we want or what we feel we deserve. Instead of "assuming the best" or "giving the benefit of the doubt" we let selfishness entertain us - and consume our thoughts.
Assumptions. Jealousy. Envy. Pettiness. Pride. Failure to acknowledge there are consequences to our sin.
We make lists of every perceived wrong and then swim lap after lap in the wake of our incorrect and unbiblical thinking. And with every stroke, we deepen our resentment and grieve the heart of God.

The dictionary defines sulking as:
verb
1. be silent, morose, and bad-tempered out of annoyance or disappointment.
synonyms: mope, brood, be sullen, be in a bad mood, be in a huff, be grumpy, be moody;
noun
1. a period of gloomy and bad-tempered silence stemming from annoyance and resentment.
synonyms: (bad) mood, fit of ill humor, fit of pique, pet, huff, (bad) temper;

I searched for a verse to support sulking/moping/sullenness in Scripture but came up empty-handed.
I did, however, find these:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3,4

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Psalm 119:36

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
James 3:16

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you
not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,
but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I Corinthians 13:4, 5

I had planned on staying home alone this afternoon/evening to spend time thinking and writing and working through some difficult issues in relationships and in my own heart. I was looking forward to the silence, the uninterrupted time to think, and not having any obligations. I truly thought my motives were pure. I cannot repent from sin if I cannot identify my sin and I cannot identify my sin if I don't think about it. But the Lord knew my true motives because my heart is continually laid bare before Him. He misses nothing. And He had no intention of letting me sit alone in an empty house to nurse my wounds and dwell on what I cannot control. So how did He divert my plans? He called me to SERVE.

A friend sent me a text sharing that her daughter was admitted to the hospital and she, the mom, was barely hanging in there. It was an instant decision. I had to go to her. She was alone, she was exhausted, and she needed someone. Normally, I would not be able to leave my children and drive to the hospital, but today I was free with no obligations. Not only did the Lord know she needed me, He knew I needed HER. For three hours I did not have one thought about myself. Frustrations, hurts, disappointments - all of them disappeared. And it was wonderful.

I still need to sit before the Lord and work through all that is tumbling inside of me.
I need to confess and repent of sin.
I need to decipher which part of the tumbling is about me and which parts are about others.
I need quiet, solitude, and time to focus on what He wants me to see.
But today was not about me. He made sure of that!

I am grateful He knows me better than I know myself because if left to my own devices, I would still be doing laps in the self-pity pool, completely unaware of my sister sitting in the deck chair, lonely and sad. But the Lord blew the whistle, pulled me out of the pool, pointed at my sister, and like a coach disciplining his lazy athletes, yelled, "EASTMAN! Get to work!"

And I returned from the hospital light-hearted and refreshed because instead of letting me sulk, my Father had me SERVE.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13, 14

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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