It happened again today. I found myself at work, convicted. Apparently, the Holy Spirit means business, and He's going to sanctify me, whether my flesh is interested or not. (That's good, given my flesh's stated disinterest in the things of God.)
I sat at my desk, having more and more enjoyable work than I've had in a long time, and I thought to myself, "I hate this." I was furious. I didn't care for the direction the assignment was going, my brain wasn't working well, I had a headache, and I was mad. Not someone asked me to do something immoral mad, or even someone asked me to do something stupid mad. Just mad.
Just like yesterday, the Holy Spirit gave me a moment's pause, and let the thoughts running through my head echo around for a few seconds. The ridiculousness soon dawned on me. I've been hungry for more and more substantive work for weeks, as my friends and wife can attest. Here I had it. More code changes and additions in a single day than in the previous six months combined. Real programming work, with some actual problem solving to do. Nothing terribly exciting; the problem in question isn't even a problem so much as an opportunity to make things better for the future. Nevertheless, it is far better than data analysis or some of the other ways I have recently had to fill my time.
Yet I was complaining. Never mind Scriptural prohibitions on complaints; never mind the immense blessing it is to have a good, stable job (especially in a down economy); never mind that this job was from the beginning an answer to prayer. It wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be today: so I grumbled in my head.
None of this escaped my lips, of course. I am far too skilled a sinner to let others know about my depravity, at least where I can hide it. For that matter, I hide my sin from myself as much as I can. The longer I can pretend my anger is deserved, my pride warranted, my jealousy justified, the longer I can go without really submitting to God. Today, again, God showed the depths of his grace by showing me my ingratitude and self-absorption.
Paul meant business when he wrote about dealing with sin. He exhorted the early believers to put sinful tendencies to death, and to recognize that their old, carnal ways were dead. They were now alive in Christ; how could they keep on sinning? Today, I think we take sin lightly. We psychologize it into oblivion, rationalize it into nonexistence, and above all trivialize it into meaninglessness. Sin is but the hobbyhorse of an older, less enlightened age; we understand that all our foibles are but the products of wounds done us at some earlier stage.
I am not discounting psychology, and I have seen how I often lash out at others in precisely the areas where I have been hurt the deepest. But the reality is, most of our sin is just sin. No excuses, no justifications, and no way out. It is sin, and we have to put it to death. We must do so in full reliance on the power of God, not trusting to our own devices. We must call out for help, rememering that God who has saved us is the one who will finish the work he has started. He will complete our sanctification and glorify us with him. Our hope is secure.
So, to all of us, the call is press in and get to work. Kill sin—or it will kill you. By the grace of God, we will all of us look more like Him tomorrow (and no doubt he will show us then how much remains to do).