I was working on some new ideas…about Christians who have really stood out, the daunting rise of moral relativism, and the power of God’s love to transform our hearts and minds; I wanted to plant those flags where they were needed most – in the heat of the battle.
But after a tough week, it was clear the biggest battle was in my own heart.
It was raging with some tough decisions I was facing. I was reminded of an important truth. With every choice, territory is claimed; an advance is made in one direction or another.
A friend of mine loves the movie Boiler Room (sales movie about a bunch of stock broker guys). He played it enough times that I memorized a few lines. If you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Always Be Closing,” its from this movie. Another memorable line is this: “A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? You or him?
A sale is made in every choice we make too – in our hearts. We are submitting to one voice or the other, the will of the flesh or the spirit. Whether we are aware of it or not, transactions are being made constantly; the question is, who is closing? C.S. Lewis says it like this:
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.”
For me, I like to think I’m moving along in the right direction, but the enemy is clearly not ready to lay down arms. Pride, anger, and resentment are always waiting to appear in the path and push me back. I’m reminded that without staying alert and focused, that is exactly what will happen.
This week, I found myself making an argument in my head that I shouldn’t have to forgive a certain person anymore. I had forgiven so many times. I had reached my quota.
In my head, the extra mile had become a marathon. Surely God couldn’t expect me to go any further – I had forgiven enough. Even if I did forgive again, I was taking a nice, long vacation.
It doesn’t matter that I know the verses. About how we should forgive our brother 70 x 7 (no limit) and how if we do not freely forgive our brothers, we can not expect God to forgive us.
I was ready to rationalize all that away. I was somehow able to convince myself that in my case, things were different.
I would have been the modern Pharisee who yanked a calculator out of her purse and stuck it in Jesus’s face. “Well maybe I’m not up to 70 x 7 EXACTLY, but look, I’m really getting up there, do you SEE?” Shouldn’t I get extra credit for all this…..and this?
That’s not grace.
He didn’t forgive me like that. He didn’t love me like that.
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
That means unconditionally — without keeping any record or score.
I know that stuff. Even so, It took reading a wonderful blog post to stop me in my tracks.
As J.S. points out, grace is about loving someone freely and without judgement for as long as it takes until God’s love breaks through. It does not mean you have to trust them. It does not mean you have to give them the deed to your house or the keys to your car. But forgive them? Yes. Love them, pray for them, bless them? Always and without ceasing (minus the vacation) – no matter what; then trusting God to handle the rest. That is His way, and it’s the only course that can melt the iron walls of deception to let His light shine through.
Lord, thank you for showing me how wrong I was through the words of your servant’s blog; Thank you for reminding me there is no number, no scorecard in unconditional love.
Please help me be aware of the choices that affect the central part of me. Create in me a clean heart; renew a right spirit in me, so that I am always “closing” in the direction of your loving grace and truth.
If you’d like to hear more about my testimony, visit trustingforpeace.com