|Imagine all roads leading to zero.|
I remember on Star Trek TNG, Data once explaining "missing someone" as "the usual neural pathways not being used." In the same way, we teach our minds to follow these pathways- some good, some bad. That is the difference between Proverbs 22:6- "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it"- and bad habits that last a lifetime.
But these pathways can be fought off. Colossians 3 gives first a list of sins that you should have put off on becoming a Christian. But then, Paul adds a list of actions that are more "sins of attitude" that we need to stop rationalizing away- anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lies. He goes on to tell us to refill these "pathways" with new things- he says, "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. "(v2)
Some of this, as we have talked about before, is perspective- looking at the earth from the Big Picture. But as I learned from a sermon not long ago, Hallowing His Name as the prayer suggests includes obedience- an obedience born of something that is a level higher than respect. And to help with the obedience end of things, Paul adds on a list of characteristics that become our second-nature responses in place of anger, wrath, etc. That list:
Mercy. I find it interesting that the KJV version on e-sword calls it "bowels of mercies". Bowels were their concept of where feelings come from, as the heart was considered the source of intellect. So in essence this means not just a case of, "It's against my better nature to show this mercy", but actually being empathetic, even with those we have little emotion in common with.
Kindness. Here the first two words in the translation are "Usefulness" and "Moral excellence". More than just patting the kid on the head, this is putting heartfelt belief into practice. Get the idea with these? It isn't just your "church face" that's needed here. To fill in the ruts, you have to change the paradigm of your life.
Humbleness of mind. This one is more tricky, formed from a couple of base words that COULD be combined to indicate "suppress yourself". Take your ego out of the game. The combined word can be used to come up with "modesty".
Meekness. If you chase this down through enough of the words that relate you see things like "gentle", "mild". Where you might say that mercy is the antithesis of anger, kindness of wrath, and humbleness of blasphemy, this would be the opposite of malice.
Longsuffering. I find the interesting thing here is that this word combines the concepts of "patience" and "fortitude." Not just waiting it out, but waiting it out in STRENGTH.
Forbearing. Literally, "to put up with." Pretty much the same concept with people as longsuffering is with circumstances. Again, doing it with strength.
And forgiveness. That the peace that you offer to their face is the peace you show walking away. A lot tougher, no?
This is a lot of work, right? You betcha.And that may be the most important thing I learned these last couple of weeks. If I want to fill in my ruts, I have to work at it, and quit giving myself the 'excuse mes' that litter my life. (For a good example, not saying several of the things I just said in trying to convince a rather large spider that just went past to assume room temperature with the help of my shoe.) One thing is to not give yourself "scriptural outs". Like say, you have this problem, and you compare it to Paul's thorn in the flesh, and tell yourself it is there to keep you "humble", and then do nothing about it. The thing is, it's the FIGHT that makes you stronger, not the fall. If you do like me, and pat myself on the back and say, look how humble it's making me, but don't fight, you are NOT hallowing His Name.
Now, if you will excuse me, I've got some fairly deep ruts to fill.