Friday, July 31, 2009


All virtues are fragile. The instant virtue is recognized within oneself, it ceases to exist.
This seems paradoxical. So is it necessary for us to attempt to believe ourselves wicked; for kind people to think themselves cruel, for humble people to believe themselves proud, for generous people to think themselves stingy, for honest people to think themselves dishonest, and so on?
No, the aim seems to be not misrepresentation, for that in itself would be an untruth, but in not thinking of oneself as anything, as kind or cruel, humble or proud, generous or stingy. In general, thinking of oneself at all is to be discouraged.
In truth you are a sinner saved by grace, you derive any goodness from God, and therefor have no more right to claim any virtue as your own than a conduit has to claim water as its own produce. So to recognize altruistic virtue in oneself is to be deceived, because such goodness is inherent in one Being and one alone.
I have been a child of God for fourteen years. If only the lapse of time were sufficient excuse to have forgotten the concept of grace.
I am insufferably self-righteous.
For instance, I have it within my own capacity to refrain from being really and truly frustrated with God when circumstances seem at odds with His goodness.
Possessing it within my own power; therein lies the problem.
For it is just as violent to propriety for a vessel to excuse the potter as it is for the vessel to accuse the potter. Both actions belie a presumed claim to self-rights on the part of the vessel, the only difference being that one vessel has asserted his supposed rights while the other has, in his view, chosen to show largess.
I reason that God has no obligation to explain Himself to me; that pain strengthens, and furthermore, to be angry with God is to lose ground gained.
As to my first point, patience is indeed a virtue, but somewhere I have taken to thinking of it as my patience, instead of His.
All the while I am patiently enduring undesirable circumstances, I believe I am unconsciously keeping score.
The point is not that I would ever reach a point when I might believe I would be justified in being angry with the Lord for His protracted ill-treatment (still I might), but that I am viewing my relationship with God in a highly legalistic fashion.
The unrealized assumption I am operating under is that my righteousness, filthy and ragged as it is, is still my righteousness, and, at that, I have cleaned it up nicely and even mended the tears.
Pointing out the sanctimony of the magnanimous vessel certainly does nothing to excuse the impertinence of the accusatory vessel, still I have noticed an encouraging pattern within those who exhibit impetuosity. Although quick to complain, they will just as quickly accept.
The stoic ones just keep their mouths shut and make another mark, revealing no greater understanding than their clamorous brethren, and worse, no willingness to seek it out.
Underneath all flows nebulous concepts of grim determination, stiff upper lips and boot straps.
I am casting away no confidence. I am simply facing another aspect of the human element.
There is a lyric in a song that is heavy with meaning for me.
Take away the part of me that forgets the price (and, I add, power) of grace.


Bill & Marsha said...

Well said Nate.Just yesterday I was thinking of the song "I don't need to understand,I just need to hold his hand.I don't need to ever ask the reason why...".But sometimes I'm afraid I do.

Devan said...