Reading through some scripture as a family before breakfast, we were considering the passage, "Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain." As we recognized the obvious point that selfishness and Godliness are opposite directions, I made the point that we can't go both directions.
"Well, we can for a little ways," my oldest son answered pointing his fingers opposite directions and crossing them as far as reach would allow.
One of Christ's teachings was, "...unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." This time, that starts with acknowledging you can in fact go opposite directions with no negative effect (for about half your body length). But this truth has a rather abrupt stopping point, one that my children complain about daily when they yank or pull on each other too hard. A little harder still and the game is over on account of pain. A little harder than even that and you're in the realm of medieval torture.
Especially when we accept the new nature that God offers us, one that pulls strongly opposite of selfishness, we really do become the rope in a tug of war. Thankfully we also control which side has the advantage. It's when we avoid assigning that advantage that we risk being torn apart as both sides continue to pull in deadlock. A quick think through scripture takes me across Baalem, Jonah and Ananias and Sapphira as a few casualties of this tug of war. If it didn't kill their bodies, it killed their faith.
Sorted out at the level of crossing my arms as far as they can go, I usually end up letting go of things like uninterrupted hours of personal time, big budget toys and job satisfaction. They get replaced with serving others, serving others and serving others. While my new nature is gratified by that, my old nature is a sore loser and would like you to know how justified its tantrum is. Thank you to those who who follow Christ's example and endure being selfless friends with me anyway! You may have to yank on my arms pretty hard but I'll turn back to his statutes before my arms come off.
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