Last night, as I watched the movie “Luther”, I felt the Lord begin to stir up a question in my mind. It was prompted by a small bit of dialogue in the movie. It takes place even before Luther leaves the monastery “to change the world.” Two men, Cardinal Cajetan and his assistant of sorts, Aleander are walking together, headed towards the sanctuary of a grand cathedral. Just before they step inside, they have the following exchange:
Cardinal Cajetan: What is it you want most?
Aleander: To serve God with all my heart.
Cardinal Cajetan: Then that is how you shall be tested.
Then that is how you shall be tested…
That phrase rung in my head and I couldn’t shake it. About half way through, I had to turn the movie off and go to the Lord. My most recent test (at least the most recent thing *I* would call a test) was what I was thinking of…and it was related to my singleness. So I brought that before the Lord. In tears I asked Him “Do I want marriage more than I want to be pleasing to you?”
Pleasing…that word stood out. Then it was as if the Lord took me up to give me the aerial view of things. I was focused on what was immediately in front of me, but God looks on the heart…or the root of the matter. He sees the big picture as well as the elemental details. What is a distraction or obstruction for me is perfectly clear to Him and last night, what He showed me was crystal clear.
Pleasing…that was the word of the night. By highlighting that word he showed me that nearly every struggle with sin is a matter of whom I choose to please. In those instances when I allow an entertaining thought to go on too long, or feel the temptation to over-indulge in food, through spending or even laziness, when I become irritated at work or with a friend…all of it is caused by making a choice to please myself rather than please God.
Being shown the root and its trailers extending into every area of life had two effects on me…the first was overwhelming self-pity, causing me to cry out “I am desperately sick, Lord!” That didn’t last long. In His mercy, He led me to follow that up with “but you are infinitely good and do not reveal sin for condemnation but to get it gone! Thank you Lord!”
This morning I read the following passages, which seemed to reinforce what the Lord showed me last night:
For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, (Romans 16:18)
…for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:2)
I am not to serve my own appetites…whatever they may be. I am called to live for the will of God, not for my passions and desires.
Lord, help me to choose what is pleasing to you…no matter what the cost to me. I have no confidence in my ability to choose rightly outside of your intervention. But I do have confidence in your ability to sanctify and transform me…and in your ability to do what is for me, impossible!