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Posts Tagged ‘Humility’

I cast a despondent gaze over the little piles of laundry lining the hallway.  (Sigh.)  I have faced those same, boring little piles every Monday of my married life.  The size, shape and quantity of the clothing have changed over the years.   The task itself has not. 

I was just about to complain to myself about having to do the dang laundry for the umpteenth time when a piece of scripture popped into my head.  (Scripture has a way of doing that.)

 

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Colossians 3:17, NIV, emphasis mine)

 

Hm.  I had to mull that one a bit. 

Whatever I do…

Whatever I do…

Wait a minute.  Whatever I do?  Does this mean to say that I’m supposed to do laundry for Jesus?  That can’t be right.  I do laundry so that we can have clean clothes and so that we don’t stink.  I do laundry for my family.  I do laundry because I have to and I’m stuck with it and if I didn’t do it, my children would wear the same clothes until the clothes could wear them and because maybe, just maybe somebody, someday will APPRECIATE ALL THE HARD WORK I DO!

Whoa.  Time for a gut check.

What would happen if I did do the laundry (and everything else) for Jesus?  Well.  My perspective might change a wee bit.  Didn’t he wash their feet?  Didn’t he come to serve, not to be served?  Doesn’t the King of Heaven wash my dirty laundry when I confess it to him?

Yes.  Whatever I do, I must do for him.  And why? 

Because if I do it for myself, it is too easy to stop. 

Because if I do it for the recognition of people, I will be disappointed.

Because everything I am able to do, I am able to do because of him.

Yes, I will do the laundry for Jesus… and swish the toilets, and grow the children, and love the husband, and teach the students, and write the blogs, and whatever else he wants me to do.  Thanks be to God that I can!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to put the sheets in the dryer… with a smile on my face. 🙂

laundryforJesus

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My grandfather had no use for churches, but he paraphrased Jesus all the time, whether he knew it or not.  One of his favorite sayings was, “When you point your finger at someone, just remember that there are three fingers pointing back at yourself.” 

Jesus said that, too.  Not exactly like that, but He said it.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing going on at my house this week by all four members of my family.   (Is there a full moon?)  At our dinner table, fingers are pointing north, south, east and west.

And I think I might just go bananas over it.

My grandfather wasn’t much of a talker.  He preferred to listen.  Unsnapping the pocket of his western shirt to dig out a cigarette, he’d light up, then, elbows on the table and calloused hands clasped, listen to the conversation going on around him.  Occasionally, he would come out with a well-timed joke, but he didn’t give his opinion much, even if you asked for it.

There are plenty of opinions expressed at our table, and sharply at that.

To my knowledge, my grandparents never locked their front door.  The protocol was to knock on your way in, and shout, “Helloooo?  Anybody home?”

“None but us chickens,” came the reply, and the greetings, and the joviality, and the eating of Sunday morning pancakes would commence.

Our door opens by appointment.

How can I change all this – the finger-pointing, opinion-bellowing and guarded welcoming?

Oh, yeah.  Three fingers pointed back at me…

Great.  That means I need to look at my behavior at least three times before I look at someone else’s.  That means I need to remove that two-by-four sticking out of my eye before I can see well enough to remove the fleck of sawdust from another person’s eye.  That means I need to listen to other people’s opinions rather than being intent on defending my own.

And it means my door should be open, just in case Jesus drops by for pancakes.

 My grandparents

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  (Luke 6:42, NIV)

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One word in the English language makes me cringe whenever I hear it.  It is usually spoken with a smidge of nasality and a hint of defiance.  Just the utterance of this word causes the speaker’s face to harden and their jaw to set.  It is a verbal way to stomp one’s foot.

I heard this word from a cashier once.  She asked if I wanted to apply for a store credit card.  When I declined, she proudly announced that she would be getting one soon.  After all, she reasoned, she had been working hard and deserved to buy some things on credit.  By that, she was saying that she deserved to have things she could not afford.

What a dangerous little word “deserve” is.

I, too, have been ensnared by the use of it, and badly at that.  For example, when I was single for longer than I thought I should be, I actually bought a diamond cocktail ring on credit to occupy my finger!  No joke.  Since I had been waiting, and no suitable husband had appeared yet, I thought I “deserved” to have a diamond ring.  (Thank goodness a suitable husband did come along – one who is financially savvy and who educated me about what a stupid move that was.)

“Deserve” is sneaky.  It makes company executives believe that they are entitled to multi-million dollar bonuses that their companies cannot afford.  It causes people to leave marriages because they “deserve better.”  It seems to justify our selfish desires.  But rather than sounding justified, we sound spoiled.

Every good thing is a gift – all because the one who deserved to sit next to God in heaven, instead chose to hang out with losers and criminals on earth.  He deserved to have every comfort, but instead chose the lash.  He deserved life, but chose death for our sake.

He got what I deserve.

Because of this, I cannot say that I deserve anything at all.  Instead, I am learning to say, “I would love to have a piece of chocolate,” or “It would be great to have a vacation,” or “I’m so fortunate to have this or that.”  I want my words to reflect a posture of gratitude rather than one of entitlement.

Please…enjoy your dessert, your new car, or your time off – not because you deserve it, but because it is a gift.

 

“…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103:10, NIV)

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Pride is something we all must guard against.  It is an attribute that we hate in others, but often don’t recognize in ourselves.  Some people have such trouble with pride that God has to do crazy things to address it – like stick them in a karate class.  Yup, I’m talking about me.

Karate has given me repeated lessons in humility, but the harshest one came shortly after I became an apprentice black belt.  (At this point, a person is considered an instructor, and is given the title “sensei.”)

I admired the “Instructor” patches on the karate uniform of one of my mentors, Sensei Joanna.  I figured I should strive for that decoration on my uniform, too. 

I shared this desire with her and my sensei.  Big mistake.  The two exchanged a look which told me immediately that I had crossed a line, a look that said, “Oh, dear.  The baby black belt has just stepped in a big pile of doo-doo.”

After they enjoyed some good-natured chuckling at my expense, Sensei Joanna gently took me aside, and explained, by way of story, what I had done.

“In my dojo,” she said, “there were things displayed which we could buy.  I saw these ‘Instructor’ patches, and I coveted them.  I asked my sensei what rank I would have to be before I was allowed to wear them.  He said, ‘Oh!  You can wear them now!’

“So the next class, I walked in, proudly displaying those patches on my sleeves.  The other black belts laughed at me and said, ‘What’s with the patches?’  

“I asked my sensei if I could take them off.  He said, ‘Oh, no.  You will keep those.  You wanted them, so you will wear them.’  Because of my pride, they became my badges of shame.”

My eyes bugged as I realized that my own pride had slipped out and was hanging around my ankles.  Wearing a black belt hadn’t been enough.  I wanted more distinction, more bling on my uniform.  After all, I was an instructor.

And my sensei, chuckling and shaking his head, was watching the whole ugly scene… 

The jokes went on for weeks.  And just when I thought (rather, hoped) he had forgotten my prideful display, my sensei gave me an “Instructor” patch of my very own.  Mercifully, he didn’t make me wear it. 

God (THE Instructor) has forgiven me, so I don’t need a badge of shame.  But that patch sits in my desk drawer as a strong reminder of the day that my pride got out and did a little dance for all to see.

 my badge of shame

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Prov. 11:2 NIV)

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