Last Saturday morning Barb was sleeping in, Chris was up, bathed, and watching a favorite Christian TV show while playing games on his tablet, and I was cleaning up the kitchen after making Chris breakfast. Over the kitchen window we have blinds – they are horizontal, wood about 2″ wide (5 cm), slightly off-white in color, with a wand on the left by which we rotate them closed at night and open during daytime, and a pull string on the right by which to lift them out of the way to see unobstructed out the window.
Being kitchen window blinds they collect grease and dust over time, and as I am always the first one up in the morning I am usually the one to rotate them from closed, which reveals the filth on each slat of wood, to open for the day which hides the grime. Out of sight, out of mind.
For the last month when I’d be at the kitchen sink I’d think to myself, “Somebody really needs to clean those. I wonder when Barb will get around to it.” (Just being honest lol) Today however, I was ‘Somebody’. I couldn’t stand them any longer. Chris was happy, Barb sleeping, breakfast over with. I opened the catch on the bracket, pulled them out and lowered them to the counter, sprayed them heavily with a degreasing cleaner allowing it to soak in several seconds before wiping them clean with a paper towel.
Once back in place I gently touched up remaining spots I had overlooked, and thought to myself, “I wonder how long it will take Barb to notice I cleaned the blinds.” As soon as that thought arose I heard the Lord ask me, “What are you going to tell her about why you cleaned the blinds?” My response was immediate, “Because they needed to be cleaned…” but that last word faded from my thoughts like a car running out of fuel and slowly coasting to the side of the road to a stop. I had answered before I had fully realized the Lord was asking for a reason, and I knew what that reason was – He was testing my motives for righteousness in my heart, or would He find pride.
Before Him, you can only tell the truth. He is like the worlds most perfect lie detector machine, a universal truth serum because He Himself is Truth – when He asks you something the truth of whatever is in your heart comes up. It is gentle, yet thorough, and only painful if you aren’t teachable, are proud, stubborn, trying to hide something in your heart, or hate being wrong. In short, if you don’t love righteousness you’ll shrink away from Truth, but if you love righteousness you race to the light to be corrected.
Before Him truth happens and you are powerless to stop it from coming out of your heart into the light of HIs scrutiny – your motives just pop to the surface like grandmas’s dumplings when they are thoroughly cooked. You are ‘done’ and there isn’t a thing you can do about it.
I immediately changed my answer to the truth: “Alright, the truth is I couldn’t stand them being that dirty any more.” And then He responded, “But you would have told Barb you did it as a favor to her because they needed it and knew it would be difficult for her to take them down.” “Yes. Sorry.”, I admitted. “It’s okay. You’ve grown a little today.” And that was that. He was silent and I was left with a warm feeling of His presence that I love, intensified because I had grown just a bit more.
I have settled in my heart when Barb asks when I did the blinds and why, I will tell her the unvarnished truth – no spin to favor me and make me look like her hero – I did it because the blinds bothered me being so dirty. I couldn’t stand it any longer. Purely self-motivated reason for cleaning them. That was the truth. It wasn’t for her. Not for the look of the place. Not because it needed to be done. They bothered me being so dirty and I couldn’t stand for it any more. That ‘s what I will tell her. (She hasn’t yet noticed they are clean)
When God judges
The Judgment Seat of Christ is what I experienced above, but here on earth. This is what happens at I John 1:9 – if we confess (admit) our sins He forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. If you are wise you will live like this, so that when you die your heart’s motives and actions will be fully up to speed with very little to cover between you and Him at that moment. For some, their life will have to play out like a long running TV miniseries because they rarely judged themselves on their motives in this life, nor were sensitive enough to Truth to be honest about the how and why of their actions.
Two women had been best friends for 15 years until one day friend #1 sent an email to about a dozen mutual friends that was in fact a well known ‘fake news’ item. Friend #2 emailed her back to the fact she had sent fake news, a lie about a person and situation, and thought she would appreciate knowing that so she could correct her mistake to everyone she sent it to. Instead, friend #1 was offended, writing her back that the principle was true even if the story was a lie. Friend #2 apologized, said she was only trying to be helpful, figuring anyone would want to know they were spreading a lie by mistake – but no, friend #1 unfriended her and refused to answer her text messages and calls, even weeks after that exchange. Friend #2 was understandably heart broken and left wondering what she did wrong. That answer: Nothing.
Friend #1 would rather be right than be righteous. Do we want to be right, or be righteous?
Hunger and thirst; believer or disciple?
There is an expected progression of one’s life seen in scripture that starts at someone believing in Jesus, and from there they become a disciple. A disciple by definition is ‘a learner’. For years people have been debating the dividing line between those who call themselves Christians, who may or may not be believers, versus those who are true disciples, living their lives in a never ending learning process of how to be more Christ-like as they walk with Him through this process called life.
One of the attributes of a disciple of Jesus is what He said in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Whether a believer hungers and thirsts for righteousness in their life or not, is revealed over time, and over tiny decisions of the heart. The right decisions move them to ever greater truth and transparency and therefore greater growth as a disciple, whereas decisions which are half-truths or made to make them look better (pride) confirm they are mere believers, at least in those particular areas.
The word and tense used by Jesus in Matthew 5:6 for hunger and thirst are ongoing in nature. He isn’t talking about wanting a meal and then once consumed being satisfied. He is speaking of an ongoing hunger and thirst that are satisfied within the process, as in the course of a great meal it is satisfying, but you want more – you live within the realm of ongoing, never ending, satisfaction.
We might say it is the act of eating or dining. Eating would be the consuming food quickly and barely tasting it, or dining which takes time and savors every bite, every nuance of flavor the meal offers. Jesus is talking about living by dining on righteousness. Loving the flavor of it in our lives. Loving the nuances what we consume in Him reveals. Desiring righteousness above desiring to be right.
And that is why when Barb eventually asks about the blinds I’ll be righteous in my answer: I couldn’t stand them any longer so I cleaned them!
We’ll pick it up there next week, until then, blessings,