Picking back up with Humble Pie Week on Brandonjadams.com…
I screwed up yesterday. I missed a lunch with a friend. Spaced it. Sesame Street’s Forgetful Jones would be proud.
You might not think it a huge deal. My friend doesn’t. He and I have been friends for many years, and he’s hardly a petty man. We just rescheduled.
But you know how it is: our frustration is proportional to how highly we esteem the person we disappointed, and this guy pegs my scale. Plus, I want to be a fully reliable person, and this memory lapse business is all too common. I’d been looking forward to the lunch all week, remembered it two hours prior, even set a phone alarm. And of course it dodged all those layers: my phone managed to get buried on my desk and have its vibrate turned off by my pocket at some point. Fabulous.
And just to add insult to injury, the very next hour revealed an important task I’d forgotten to do for my boss.
Needless to say, the day was sliding into Beat Yourself Up territory on a greased pole.
As if that ever changes anything.
And given how brutally hard I am on myself, with the failure-barrages of marriage and ministry still hopefully ahead of me, one thing is clear: I’m going to have to start loving myself.
Whaaaaa? you say. Loving yourself? That’s not right. We should be dying to ourselves, becoming less selfish. Being proud and putting ourselves first isn’t Biblical at all!
The catch is…that’s not love. Pride isn’t love. Self-focus isn’t love. We have love’s definition down in black and white, in 1 Corinthians 13. Sure, this is a bit of a “war over words” that I’m engaging in, but maybe love is a word we should defend. Why should we fear applying proper, Biblical love to ourselves? When is the last time we even tried?
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Love is patient…
Some folks are a little too patient with themselves, not really moving towards holiness with any haste. Patience does not mean complacency.
And yet…even those who are rushing towards holiness will need God’s patience. None of us are fast enough. What if we asked God to help us share in his patience toward us? Would we stop beating ourselves up? Would we accept that we are en route, under renovation, and start tackling sanctification in grace and not anger?
…love is kind.
Same thing. I’m not presently doing well at this. Life has pointed out even more failures since yesterday (of course), and it’s taking all I’ve got to avoid raking myself over coals of self-reproach. That’s always been my motivation – abuse Present Brandon and Future Brandon will turn out better. Theoretically.
But God restored Peter three times, one for each denial. It changed Peter. We’re talking the Christ who told the adulteress she was not condemned. God reserves the right to get harsh if needed, but still, there is immense kindness in him.
Shame and guilt only tear down; they don’t achieve change very effectively. Conviction is different than shame. It lifts us up. It calls us forward. It says “be who you truly are in Christ” – a new creation, already but not yet.
We can be kind to ourselves when we fail, for God is kind to us.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Straightforward. If you envy or boast, you aren’t loving yourself. You’re just sinning. God has plenty of words about how pride brings downfall, not redemption.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…
Again, love others and you love yourself. If loving others comes at the expense of helping ourselves, as it so often does, then we trust Matthew 5, where Jesus reassures us that he hasn’t forgotten about our reward.
…it is not easily angered…
Some of us get angry with ourselves at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s a habit we picked up from home. (I did not.) But it goes back to patience and kindness – if God is not behaving a certain way towards us (and he is slow to anger, despite all our “watch out for lightning” jokes), why do we behave that way towards ourselves?
…it keeps no record of wrongs.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to forget all the awful things we’ve done, the foolishnesses we’ve committed? The cross lets us do that. Give them to God. Stop letting Satan hammer you with your past. Jesus died to give you a future.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Truth is important. I do have to be honest with myself about how I’m doing. There’s no room for fooling myself, or neglecting sober judgment (Romans 12:3). That isn’t love.
It always protects…
Guard your heart. Don’t let dark, frivolous, or worldly things in. Take refuge in Christ. Use your Sabbath. Care for your body. Be willing to let a few people down for the sake of your rest or walk, if God so directs. You’re no good to anyone burnt out.
I don’t trust myself. But I trust the Holy Spirit who indwells me (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:11) and can talk to the Father better than I (Romans 8:26, 27).
…always hopes, always perseveres.
I have great hope that God isn’t finished with me yet (Philippians 1:6), and I will stay committed to that sanctification.
Whew. This blogging thing is quite the God tool. I needed that. Maybe I’ll keep writing…
You’re forgiven. You’re dearly loved.
So love yourself.