Recently my friends and I have been looking at CCEF's tree model to understand how to approach the issue of sin in our lives. You see, according to the tree model, the real issue is under the surface, where the roots are. The real issue is that in some way shape or form we don't believe the Gospel. Because if we did truly and fully believe in the Gospel, we would not see bad fruit (aka sin) in our lives. There are great resources out there, here is one of them.
So anyways, this way of viewing sin makes you take note of the circumstances in your life and your reaction to the circumstances, but always pushes you to ask, What is going on in my heart? Where is my heart not believing in the Gospel. I totally agree with this model of counseling and have been encouraging my friends and I to use it as we minister to each other.
So tonight God challenged me. It's almost 2am and I am wide awake. I was in bed for almost an hour, tossing and turning. Why? you might ask. Well, anger was burning deep in my heart. Yeah. Anger and and pain. Oh, and don't forget bitterness. Yep. They were mulling around, keeping me from going to sleep at a decent hour.
The situation doesn't really matter, it's all just my circumstances. And my response is only truly valuable for showing me something even more important: that my heart is NOT resting in the Gospel. In my situation, there is a person who has done x,y, and z. Like I said, it honestly doesnt even matter. My response is anger and bitterness. So what does that tell me? Well, to be honest, Im not completely sure. I feel like I am just begining to scrape the top of the huge ice cube that is my heart. I can tell you this much, part of my anger is self righteousness. Yeah. I think somehow that this person's sin is so much worse than mine. The truth is, their sin is gross to God and I should react to it. But I have to react in light of my own gross sin having been forgiven. Not by my own deeds, but by the blood of Jesus. So when this person does something that send jolts of anger into my heart, I have to fight to remember that I am no more than a forgiven sinner. My anger is like the guy in Matthew 18 who is forgiven of much but then refuses to forgive his neighbor of a few pennies.
Our responses show our heart. I praise God that He kept me awake tonight. He didn't let me go to sleep in my anger, or thinking that my anger is justified. No, He loves me enough to show me how sinful my heart is. As long as I sit in anger and bitterness, I can't experience His grace. And let me tell you friends, there is no experience to be had other than His grace. It is the sweetest part of life, and it is the greatest hope in death.