For the past year or so I have been conducting a little experiment. I wanted to discover the times that I was most likely to be sinfully angry, frustrated with people around me, irritated, grumpy, and wallowing in self-pity. While the results of this experiment are very helpful, I must admit that I don’t always LIKE what I discover.
Discovery #1: My weariness was not normally based on my schedule
Busyness can be a problem. But I found that a nap was only in order about once every two or three weeks. Even in my busiest seasons of all, a nap once or twice a month was more than enough to keep the body functioning.
However, I also learned that when I lose focus on Christ, the level of my weariness rises significantly. On those days, every new assignment at work is an injustice of massive proportion – even if it only takes 5-10 minutes to do it. Every new “to do” list at home is like giving blood two quarts at a time. Every failure is another reason to crawl in bed and make the day go away.
In other words, over and over again weariness was not a function of WHAT I had to do, it was a function of the ATTITUDE I had doing it. The more my mind was fixed on the amazing grace of Christ, his elect love for me, the rebirth he has caused in me, the legal declaration of righteous through the righteousness of Christ, and freedom I have from the power and penalty of sin, the more I found my duties as opportunities, the more I saw my responsibilities as opportunities, and the more I believed my life was lived with purpose.
This should not really surprise me, after all David in Psalm 32 reminds us that sin brings weariness to our soul that far outweighs the challenges of our external circumstances. Maybe you are like me, just because you have knowledge in your head does not mean it always makes its way to your behavior.
While I occasionally need a nap, the real source of my weariness is my refusal to meditate on the instruction of the Lord.
Discovery #2: My sinful anger, self-pity, and grumpiness were tied to my purpose
There have been many times over the past year that I have been sinfully angry, been in a funk of self-pity, or been very grumpy. But as I reflected on those moments I also discovered that they were almost always tied to my purpose at the time. When I was seeking to build my kingdom then it was easy to be angry with my children … who cared less about my kingdom than I did! It was easy to be angry at those around me at work since they were messing with the kingdom I was seeking to build. In other words, the more I tried to build my kingdom, the more my kingdom came into conflict with other kingdoms (either selfish kingdoms those around me were building or God’s kingdom).
However, when I looked at my purpose through the grid of serving, honoring, loving, and seeking the kingdom Jesus builds, then my anger gave way to action, my self-pity gave way to thankfulness, and my grumpiness was converted to joy.
That again is not very surprising. James reminds us that when we are proud God opposes us, he removes his blessing from us, and he allows us to experience the natural consequences of our pride. On the other hand, the humble receive grace. In fact, in the very next verse we are reminded that when we draw near to God, he draws near to us.
So, what were the results of my experiment? I found that the more I focused on my position in Christ and the more I worked to do something toward his kingdom, the less weary I was, the more I actually did, the less I was sinfully angry, the more I was righteously angry, the less I focused on self-pity, the more I experienced humility, the less grumpy I was and the more joyful.
Conduct a little experiment of your own or better yet, just learn from mine.