Friday, December 12, 2008

Attitudes or Acts?

Scenario is familiar: Older sibling (or parent) is annoyed by a younger sibling (or child). The little one just isn't moving fast enough to suit the older one, though they are trying their best.

"Come on, won't you? Does it take forever to brush your hair? We're gonna be late."

This scene is also familiar: Little guy is asked to do something, and moves to comply, but with a frown on his face. Older sister chooses to ignore it, because she is in a hurry, and is content with just the fact that he did what she asked. She chooses not to deal with the scowling face.

I'm gonna share a small portion of scripture that just thrills me. I love how Jesus knew real life. I love how He looked at things;

"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

They say unto him, The first."

Matthew 21: 28-31

Jesus is concerned with attitudes much more than actions. I love that. It is such a freeing knowledge. When I am trying my best, but failing, He knows. What relief! ...And when I am doing my "duty," but my heart isn't in it, He knows that too. What conviction!

God's focus on the heart of man is one of my favorite things about Him (as if I could really pick a favorite!! Okay - it's just something I really, really, like.)

But do I imitate Him? Remember this:

Matthew 18:23-35
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

So if God does something for me, I ought to in turn do it for others.

Do I look at the motive and hearts of those around me? Do I respond based upon what they intended? If a little sister is trying to help me with laundry, and instead stains a shirt, do I condemn her mistake, or love her for her attitude of helpfulness? If a siblings wants to "bribe" me into showing favor upon something wrong they are doing, do I take the easy road and respond to their smiles, or gently correct the wrong?

The first temptation occurs most often; it is so easy to be harsh with folks whose actions hurt or offend me, but whose hearts are on the right track.

But I want to be like Jesus.

So I'd better learn to look at the heart.


Amanda said...

Again, you've got another great reminder! I need to look more at the attitude than the actions. Your beginning scenario is true at our house, too. I need to have a prompting like this more often!

Heather said...

Am, you really need to update the picture on your Family Fridays to something a little more up to date. :)

Amber said...

But I can't find one I like better, Sister Dear. :) Besides, I've established a tradition now. :)