One thing leads to another
Have you ever done something for yourself to make life easier and in the long run it only produced a new problem in your life? Example: This year I resolved to chemically eliminate the need to use the grass trimmer around my chain link fence, thus saving on the aggravations of tearing up and replacing so much trimmer string on the unforgiving metal fence. Besides, my lazy side is becoming more dominant as the years pass and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Well, my now one-year-old Chihuahua, who loves her fenced-in yard, has been caught outside the fence several times. The little Houdini found a way out, which, after inspecting the entire fence, remained a total mystery to me how she was doing it.
The best way to solve problems is to observe, so on the porch I sat watching the magician at work. It didn’t take long before I heard the fence rattle and there she was on the other side of the fence. By ridding the fence-line of grass for ease of maintenance, it caused the bottom of the fence to become loose and flexible enough for a little dog to scoot under and go exploring the big world. Good thing she didn’t run into a big dog. Well, some cheap tent stakes solved the problem, for now.
A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. While eating breakfast near a window, the first morning in their new home, the young woman sees her equally young neighbor hanging her wash outside to dry. “That laundry isn’t very clean,” she mentioned to her husband. “She doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.” Her husband looked on but didn’t say anything. Every time her neighbor hung her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments. About two months later the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and commented to her husband, “Look! She has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her.” The husband casually remarked, “By the way, did you notice I finally got around to washing all the windows yesterday?” So remember, what we see while watching others depends on the purity of the window through which we look [Matthew 24:24-26; Romans 15:1-6; Philippians 2:1-11].
There was once a rather rough man, who for some reason, fell in love with a beautiful vase he found in an antique shop. He purchased the vase and placed it on the mantel in his living room. The piece became a kind of judgment on his surroundings. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The sofa with the stuffing coming out of the seats would not do. The wallpaper and paint needed redoing. So, the man slowly started cleaning up the room to make it worthy of the beautiful vase. Gradually the whole room was transformed.
Who is your biggest opponent? From whom do most of your troubles and struggles come? Maybe you guessed it right. The greatest challenge any of us face is self. It seems no matter what we do in the pursuit of happiness, it’s never exactly what we were looking for. Even in our relationship with God, most people never get past the first requirement to follow Jesus: deny self. Our culture is of no help. All day, every day, we are told self is to be indulged, satisfied, served, and fulfilled. Happiness itself, we’re told, depends on satisfying self. Happiness comes from the freedom of self-slavery, which binds us in the slavery of sin. It takes a transformation of worldly thinking to spiritual living to move us from selfish living to servant loving. When a person puts the Lord on the mantel of his heart, his whole life begins to change. Amen?
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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