Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Slave Mentality

Surprise! A Saturday post (that's because I'm going to be gone next week, and wanted to finish out this subject before I leave. And also because I have no doubt I will have other things to write about when I get back!!)

I wrote the other day about how accomplishment in life (even in a day) does bring pleasure and satisfaction. It's a blessing from God. The problem is in seeing it that way and not as something I can obtain if I strive enough, or am disciplined enough. (And isn't that funny, to think that all that discipline and hard work is actually motivated by a desire to feel good about oneself!).

Of course, it's not really something one can always obtain if you just "do things right," because sometimes things don't work out so you have the accomplishment. You work all day, and the card ends up a disaster. You scrub the kitchen floor and in minutes the dog and other arrivals trash it. You spend hours pouring over the manuscript and can't seem to change one word, though you are very aware that it is in dire need of changing. Or someone needs help. Or something breaks. Or, Heaven forbid, you have to do something new on the computer! (that's good for about six hours) Or you get sick... Or you just can't seem to get yourself to settle down and focus.

Then you have no accomplishment. If you think it's up to you, then you feel bad. But all it is, really, is a pleasure denied, not an indictment. Probably something God allows so we'll remember it's not up to us and not about us. He gives the accomplishment for our blessing, or He doesn't.

And really the other way of thinking is a form of legalism. In fact, it's a slave mentality. Here's a quote from one of my pastor's sermons of some time ago:

"When believers seek satisfaction about who they are and acceptance through accomplishment, it's legalism. We don't have to seek acceptance. We already are accepted. We don't have to seek satisfaction; God already is."

And if He is, shouldn't we be?

"Instead of life bringing forth service, we turn it around to make service the life. If you serve and hustle and accomplish and feel happy and accepted (and satisfied), then fail to do any of that and feel awful, you're in the trap. This is the relationship of the slave/servant to his master. We are to serve others, but we're not to have a servant mentality because according to Gal 4:7, we are no longer slaves. We are heirs."

So all this going through the day with my mental list of "what I have to do" or "what should be done" and the perpetual urgency, racing through each task to get to the next so I can accomplish things, get everything done (or thinking I should be doing B while I'm doing A, or A while I'm doing B -- which I also do) -- all that without enjoying any of it... it's just legalism. (And as I said before, Heaven forbid that anything should come up to hinder me in my pursuit of accomplishment). The Law in this case is that of my sin nature and my old human viewpoint thinking: You must get these things done or I'll make you feel rotten!"

When I should be focusing on each thing the Lord has chosen for me to do today. Every day is one He has made, for me to learn more of Him, see more of Him, enjoy whatever He has for me, no matter how mundane.