Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Annoying vs the Annoyed

In a recent conversation with a very dear friend, he shared as he has several previous times, that he enjoys cold weather.

I responded, jokingly saying, “People like you are annoying.”

Later I reflected upon this realizing that I had spoken thoughtlessly and unlovingly.  As I continued reflecting upon this as I worked in the cold yesterday, I thought that he would have been entirely justified in saying, “Perhaps, but maybe you are just annoyed.”

And that is the absolute truth.  He was not annoying.  I was just annoyed.

Why should I be annoyed by another person’s statement of enjoying something that God gives in His gracious and loving providence?  Why should I be annoyed by another person’s healthy outlook concerning the weather?  What kind of a friend would act thus?

Thankfully, my friend is a true friend who does not easily become offended.  He responds with loving laughter to my thoughtless remark.  It is extremely unlikely that he even thought of it as thoughtless on my part.  In fact, he very likely examined himself in his own heart concerning whether he may have been careless himself.

Thanks be to God that He has redeemed us with His own salvific sacrifice so that He freely remits all of our sinfulness.  Thanks be to God that this forgiveness that freely flows from His heart of love also fills His children with the same so that we eagerly forgive one another. Thanks be to God for His baptismal gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who tirelessly works in the hearts of God’s baptismally adopted children to confront these many faults and to bring us to metanoia, often translated as repentance, but is much, much more.  Metanoia is a change or overturn or reversal of the mind.  Such a change turns selfishness to thoughtfulness and consideration of others.

In this instance, the Holy Spirit has turned my heart and mind to realize that when my friend expresses appreciation, thankfulness, and joy concerning God’s gift of cold weather, that my heart should surely join him in this.  After all, God surely does work some very good things through the cold weather.

For example, after Jack Frost first appears, how many mosquitoes and flies remain to bite us?  The frost also kills many of the insects that attack our garden and lawn plants.  The cold air tends to be crisp and clear and invigorating.  Many such examples can be quoted regarding blessings that the Lord provides along with and through the cold.

The ones who truly are annoying are those who like me tend to focus upon the perceived negative affects of the cold so that we mumble and complain against the Lord, not accounting His goodness that is displayed in all things.  By complaining against the Lord, I am the annoying one, who tempts others to ignore His plainly displayed goodness and mercy.

A person can very easily fall into the trap of imagining that such complaining is not serious.  Especially when presented in a joking manner, it is easy to ignore the deleterious nature of such comments.

I realized this regarding another dear friend from my teenage and early manhood years.  Having grown up in a family where teasing was a form of showing affection, I did not realize how powerfully damaging such teasing can be.  This is the sad fact even among those who accept teasing as a showing of affection.

One of my friends had very low self-confidence.  He had many life experiences in his childhood that left him unable to see himself clearly as the wonderful person God had made him to be.  Because of his low view of himself, he often acted without good sense.  He often viewed himself only from the weakness of his sinful and incompetent nature, not truly counting himself as the forgiven and richly blessed child that God had declared him to be.  And so he had many accidents.  He made many foolish mistakes and blunders.  We, his friends, sometimes teased him about these.  He would laugh and even tease himself.

One day I realized that I was hurting my friend with my teasing.  He never said so, but I realized that my teasing was enforcing his low view of himself and was actually robbing him of the hope of doing better and of enjoying himself for the person that God had made him to be.  When I realized this, I apologized to him and asked his forgiveness.  He did not really perceive that I had done anything wrong but gladly forgave me.  In my heart I knew and I wanted the friend whom I loved to know that I would no longer show such thoughtlessness toward him.  I also confessed this to our other friends and urged them to seek to build one another up rather than tearing one another down through teasing.

This is what our loving God does for us.  He moves us to see beyond what we imagine to be harmless and innocent so that we are turned from these things in our hearts and minds to what truly is innocent and even loving and merciful and good.  The more that we behold God’s goodness in all things, the more that we are moved to demonstrate His goodness in our own actions.

This, of course, is made possible through the ultimate display of His goodness, mercy, and love in the voluntary and loving sacrifice of Jesus, who from His eternal love for us gave Himself as our redemption price.  Moreover, He continues to give Himself to us and for us through the means of grace.  When we receive these in accord with the faith that He generates in us, we truly do begin to see ourselves as totally regenerated through water and Spirit to abide as true communicants of His Holy Communion.

What better response is there besides, “Hosanna in the Highest.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Kyrie eleison.  Hallelujah!  Amen!”

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Hosanna = save now
Kyrie eleison = Lord have mercy
Hallelujah = Praise Yahweh (the Lord)

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dear Paul,

I just got in from splitting wood. Its been snowing with some wind; Overall a good and invigorating day granted by our wise God and Savior.

The Spirit of God, who fills you with His Word; the Son, True God and True Man who fills you with His life hidden in bread and wine; the Father who loving leads you to embrace and confess His Wisdom; The Triune God has led you in writing this post, just as the previous ones, to His glory and for the readers genuine and lasting edification. To such work we are moved to an embracing Amen.

Gary Cepek