Friday, September 5, 2008

End of a "Hard" Week

For only being a four-day work week, this seemed to me to be extremely long. I've recently been assigned to take over managing a couple of "problem" projects that haven't been making much progress. Yeah, sounds like fun, eh? And the biggest issue I've been dealing with this week is not technical or hardware or software or any of that kind of tangible stuff. It's been dealing with some people who are, well, hard to deal with. People who consume so much of your energy just trying to work with them that you end up spent and wasted and frustrated and... well, you know. The kind that rub you until you get calloused and hardened. That's the way I've been feeling as this week has progressed. Hard. Dull.

So I've been reading Christ is All: The Piety of Horatius Bonar off and on for the past couple weeks. I love Bonar's turn of phrase and his straightforward style. And so the other night before bedtime I pick up the book, feeling hard and frustrated, looking for some distraction. And I come to a short essay titled "The Deceitfulness of Sin." A page and a half that seemed to be directed expressly at me. And I quote it here in it's entirety.

There are many dangers to which Christian men are liable, but the apostle singles out one to which they were specially exposed: hardness of heart, impenitency, obduracy. It is to Christian men he addresses the warning. This hardening implies such things as these:

I. A losing our first love. When iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold. The affections get dulled and blunted.

II. Losing the edge of our conscience. The conscience ceases to be sensitive and tender. It does not shrink from sin as it used to do.

III. Callousness as to truth. We get so familiarized with truth, that it ceases to affect us. It loses its power over us.

IV. Insensibility to sin. Our own evils are not felt as they used to be; sin itself is not so hated and shunned as formerly.

Thus our whole man gets hardened; our feelings become dull; and spiritual things no longer tell upon us. Great is our danger of becoming hardened; greater still our danger after we have become hardened. Oh, beware of sliding back and sliding down; beware of coldness and indifference. Keep your whole man ever on edge; let no hardness creep in.

Bonar is referring here to the warning in Hebrews 3:13, " that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Now, I can blame my hardness of heart and mind and spirit on having to deal with another person who is difficult. But in reality it is my own sinful self will that is causing the hardening response in me. It's the deceitfulness of my own sin. My own self-righteous assumption that I am always right and this other person must be wrong. My insensitivity to my own sinful response to the situation, rationalizing my anger and words.

Truth is that Bonar's words here are spot on. And convicting. At least for me, and I hope for you as well. And I need to keep them in mind as I approach the coming week. I'm spending the week at a conference for my job - in Las Vegas, my least favorite city in the world. A city that thrives on the deceitfulness of sin, and that relies on people who have insensitive consciences. By God's grace I pray that I am not one of them.

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