Years ago, I was introduced to a book that would irrevocably alter my warped, worldly thinking and set me on a new path to appropriate my identity according to God’s Word. That book was The Common Made Holy by Neil Anderson and the Freedom in Christ Ministry. A book that opened my eyes and heart to the idea of sanctification on a very practical level. A book that I recently picked up, reminded me of an important principle found in Anderson’s book.
The importance of relationships in our sanctification process. The Lord uses relationships with others to sanctify US!
Ohhh! So that’s why relationships can be so difficult – they touch areas that we would prefer remain untouched! YES! Some relationships more than others seem to touch such areas. And some relationship-seasons (husband-wife, parent-child, friend-friend, employer-employee, etc…), are more challenging than others at different times.
While we have a tendency to (more comfortably) focus on the OTHER person’s need for sanctification during a difficulty, we must be careful to follow the command to work out our OWN salvation, or sanctification, with fear and trembling. The principle and application of “the log and the speck” has transformative power – personal transformation and relational transformation. Sounds difficult but desirable, yes? Yet many of us settle for the paralysis created by neatly placing blame and guilt on the other party, ignoring our own participation and contribution to an often relationally polarizing process.
So let’s first look at the WHY question. Why do many of us have a tendency to solely settle for seeing others as the incessant thorn in our side and ourselves as victims? This is a big question and the answer requires expanding our thinking, which translates into exposure to ideas based on higher and deeper principles than those we may be currently operating under.
Where would I search for such principles? Among mere men and their wisdom? Perhaps as a starting point or a bridge to a greater source. Years ago, as a teenage atheist, I lived according to man’s wisdom and the wisdom the world valued. What was my primary source? Well… General Hospital, of course! Actually, GH was just one of many. I would now blush at the books, music, magazines, TV shows, and movies that shaped my futile and foggy thinking in those days. The results and consequences are not appropriate to share here, however, it was through these that a search began, a decision was made, and a line was drawn. My greater source was Him and my primary source of truth was to be God’s Word from that day forward.
So here is a perhaps new sanctification idea, drawn by men from God’s word, that I have found worthy to ponder on my own journey in the fertile fields of relationships.
For lack of a more creative term I will call this grid … Sanctification Sections and over a few blog posts, I hope the idea will take a firmer shape in your mind and heart.
Place this four-section table over your own heart – thinking of what you know or see about your OWN heart.
|What others see/know||What others do NOT see/know|
|What I see/know…||Best Section
contains what I know and allow others to see about me. I share what I know to be the BEST about me with others.
secret part of my life –
* positive (specific acts and disciplines that cultivate a strong and healthy Christian life)
* negative (sin, struggles, thoughts, fleshly weaknesses not shared or trusted to others)
|What I do NOT see/know||Blind Section
Yikes! Others can see things about me I am BLIND to (pride, self-reliance, consequences of media choices, etc)… BUT with safe, mature counselors, I humbly allow these areas to be brought to my conscience to be transformed & sanctified.
Again, there are things I don’t know about my own heart, and others don’t either – degrees of pride, selfishness, self-reliance, tendency to spiritualize, denial, hiding, blaming, …
Sanctification seeks to reduce this “section” too!
Table adapted from Listening for Heaven’s Sake.
Can these ideas help your family along sanctification’s way? It sure has mine! Does this help provide a framework for a dialog of truth and grace? I am working on it!
So the question NOW becomes a HOW question. How do you and I move from our comfortable habit of neatly tying up all relational distress as due to the other person, to soberly and accurately allowing the Lord to poke around in our own hearts?
There are cautions and considerations as we learn How. Let’s unpack these ideas a bit… more in blog posts to come.