Lately I have discovered that I much prefer to admit my failings than to testify when I see evidence of the Holy Spirit working to transform me. Why should I hesitate to own up to spiritual fruit in my life? Is it boastful to acknowledge that God is working on me?
To some, it is a praiseworthy thing that my husband and I host church for the English-speaking community every other week. Very readily I confess that we do not always accomplish this with flawless attitudes and that sometimes we must drag our kids out of bed and fuss until they cooperate in setting up the living room, cleaning the kitchen, tidying the bathrooms, and helping with all the other necessary arrangements. Very hesitantly do I admit to people how God has helped me overcome my lack of desire to “keep on serving” when it seems unappreciated.
Complaining before God early one Sunday morning, I admitted the honest truth that I did not want to make coffee for the other cross-cultural workers. As silly as it sounds, I had the audacity to grumble before the most generous King of Glory that I was begrudging His church the benefit of an unnecessary cup of coffee.
Why should we be the ones to provide the coffee? Furthermore, I was questioning whether our own supply would last the week for our own needs once I made that big pot of coffee for the ungrateful masses.
Immediately I recognized and confessed my ridiculous sin of selfishness, and I agreed to make coffee once again “as unto the Lord.” Cheerfully. I smiled as I washed the counter, put out the creamer, and refilled the sugar dispenser, thinking how ridiculous it was that only moments earlier I had calculated the cost of such a tiny sacrifice.
Just a short time later, the most amazing thing happened. A man who regularly attends our fellowship group came through the back door, and, walking through the kitchen, discreetly handed me a pound of coffee.
“It just occurred to me this morning,” he said, “that you should not have to always provide the coffee for this group.” Surely I said thank you, but I do not remember anything beyond silent rejoicing that God heard the cry of my heart. He actually cared!
On two other occasions I experienced a similar blessing. One time I was grumbling and sighing inwardly about all the coffee cups which would need to be washed after everyone else went home. Ack! Again, I was convicted almost before the words were formed in thought. What a lazy attitude! This time God, instead of reprimanding me, put it in someone’s heart to step in and wash the dishes for me that day.
Yet a third time (I am a slow learner!), I was mentally moaning over all the work to be done after church on Sunday at our house again. My thought/prayer (where does one stop and the other start, after all?) was along the lines of Ugh, I hope my kids will be willing to pitch in happily and take all the chairs back next door where they belong.
The thought was not fully formed before the Spirit-led man-with-the-coffee jumped up and said, “Hey, if we all work together we should be able to get this living room back in order in no time!” Before my eyes, God provided yet another answer to a very petty plea.
These would be truly embarrassing episodes to relate if I did not know that in your ministry, you probably have an occasional stinky attitude of your own that is not much different from mine. I encourage you to pour out your heart to God. He sees it anyway. Sometimes just saying the words helps to identify sin that needs to be conquered: Why bother? No one cares. I do not feel like serving. I hate being a cross-cultural worker right now. It is not fair…. Pretending to have a good attitude may work for you, but I prefer admitting my corrupted thought process and then watching the Holy Spirit change my heart so that I can work willingly.
On a related topic, now you can see why I am sometimes lenient with my children, pitching in and helping them instead of scolding when their attitudes are not commendable (It’s not fair…see the above.). God sets the precedent by carrying my lightest/non-existent burden when it only seems heavy. How can I not extend grace to my children in the same way when they are the ones experiencing a bad day? Hopefully they will rise up and bless the Lord as I have; it is my desire that they learn for themselves the art of silent prayer when they feel too grumpy or weary to work.
Likewise, when I praise them for being faithful, diligent, or generous, I know that it is not for any good that I have done, but only because of God’s Spirit working through us. If and when my children are good, it is God’s goodness we see. I should not apologize for boasting when it is not to my credit, but God’s.
When I am a faithful servant, it is only because God is faithful and has not given up on me. He has strengthened my arms for the task, and He has adjusted my heart attitude so I can persevere even when it becomes wearisome. When I am weak, He is strong. I like that!