I am very judgmental. I think negative things about most of the people I see. I often accuse/categorize others as inconsiderate (particularly while driving), fat, lazy, worldly, ignorant, and/or slothful. I recognized yesterday that the underlying sentiments that incite these feelings are based on competitiveness between me and others (if they are slothful that must make me responsible). Rationally I recognize it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the way my natural man operates. I’ve recognized recently how much I dislike the way I feel when I enter into condemnation-of-others mode.
I was praying, asking the Lord to take away these feelings of competitiveness/enmity from my heart, when He asked me how He could as long as I kept playing competitive sports. I suddenly recognized that I didn’t like the competitive feelings that came into my life after playing basketball a couple of times that day. I felt my desire to play diminish tangibly as I reflected on the experience. At this moment I’m not sure I will ever want to play again. Once again my growing recognition that all goodness in my life does not come from me, but from God, has been reinforced. In response to my prayer, He changed my heart. I have been unable to change my own heart. Ever.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
As I consider these things, I think I see a connection between enmity and fear. Why do I resent the guy that cuts me off on the road on my way to work? Because I’m in a hurry to get to work because I’m afraid I won’t be doing a good job if I’m late, which is based on a fear of being fired, which is based on a fear of how my wife will treat me if I get fired, which is all based on a lack of trust in God. Do I trust He can/will deliver for me a customized plan of development/trials/blessings that optimizes my chances of turning to Him? Yes. If He knows exactly what things I stand in need of, I ought to look forward to those things. Do I trust in Him or fear what He intends for me? Those are the two core, mutually exclusive options. Whatever I focus on is what I worship. Fear is the desire to avoid an uncomfortable feeling in the future. Yet ironically when we fear we bring the feared discomfort into our life NOW.
I now pray that Father will remove fear from my life–of all types and kinds. That should ultimately remove enmity and help me love others. As fear and faith cannot co-exist, faith feels like it might actually be equal to love. Is faith really the desire to draw near to Father and feel His love, the tree of life?