The Agora
Bible Editorials

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Too easy or too harsh?

I'm not quite sure how one does it -- nor even how I do it, sometimes -- but I think it's a good idea to develop some sort of "circuit breaker" in the mind. So sometimes, when I've been pretty hard on myself -- deservedly so -- for a failure or shortcoming or even a chronic deficiency -- then I find myself "turning off"... as in, 'I'm not going to think about that any more for a while'... and maybe going for a walk, or just resting, or sitting in the back yard and listening to the birds... and thinking -- not very profoundly or deeply -- but just letting the mind wander over... the goodness of God, and how Jesus loved sinners, and stretched out his hand and touched even the leper or the prostitute. And remembering that he -- that THEY, God AND His Son -- love me! In other words, going "easy" on myself for a little while, and reminding myself that I am the child of God, and that He loves me, warts and all.

Now that doesn't mean that I should stay in that pleasant, soothing state altogether, or too long. But sometimes I need it, so as not to overload. And being strengthened by that little "break", after a while, I can go back to the "struggle", whatever form it takes. But I can't -- I just CAN'T -- be struggling all the time!

Now it's not as though, when I am "wrestling" with this or that problem of mine, or trying diligently to improve in this or that aspect of my life, that I can't -- simultaneously -- think of the goodness and mercy of God. And probably that "double-thinking" would be the ideal. So maybe it's more like... at times, I could easily forget what I SHOULD be remembering all the time: that God loves me, because -- well, just look at me! What's there to love? As brother Dev told us this weekend, "We are a miserable mass of sins and temptations and lusts, and the flesh -- like a subtle snake -- is inextricably entwined in all we do and think and say!"

And THEN he REALLY got going!

Seriously, though, Dev had a lot more to say than that. But the point is worth remembering, and that can be a corrective to the tendency to dwell too much in the pleasant, soothing atmosphere of "God-loves-me" Land -- where a too-long sojourn may possibly leave us thinking something like: "Well, now, since God does love me -- freely and without reservation -- then why should it make any difference what I do, or don't do?"

I remember a while back we had this same sort of discussion, when some expressed reservations about my quoting brother Growcott in daily exhortations... because he could be very uncompromising -- and too much GVG could leave one feeling hopelessly inadequate.

But what I tried to say then, and I'm trying to repeat now, is: in our lives, we all need some comfort AND some challenge. Some patting on the back AND some kicks in the... backside.

And we each need some of both, but in different proportions. And we each need different proportions at different times.

So, taking GVG's comments and exhortations, for example, I'll say for myself that I wouldn't want to read him all the time or exclusively, any more than I would want to dwell ONLY on the passages in the Bible that tell me, "Be ye holy, as God is holy" or "Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". But I need those passages, and those sorts of exhortations, sometimes. And other times, I need to hear that, yes, God loves ME! And I need to believe it.

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