Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spoiled rotten? .................................... Parables 066

An economy ticket for a half-filled flight in a 747 gave me the rare opportunity to enjoy sitting in “executive class” where even a glass of ice water has a slice of lemon in it. The next leg of my trip put me back in a crowded 727, chuckling about being an “executive” for a couple of hours. Beside me, a woman teased, “Don’t get spoiled. Never allow yourself that.”

The dictionary says that “spoiling” refers to allowing indulgences that impair the character. Children who are given every thing they desire usually become adults marked with an assortment of character traits such as: the inability to say no to anything that offers instant pleasure, with little consideration of any long-term results, and an “I-want-what-I-want-when-I- want-it” attitude.

When I was a child, my parents were told that I would not live past 18 years. I suppose that I was treated somewhat differently than I would have been without that possibility hanging over me. Since no child would think to say “I refuse to allow you to spoil me”... I accepted all favors and gifts.

But I am no longer a child. As my fellow-passenger said, self-indulgence is now my responsibility and it is up to me whether or not I am “spoiled.”

I have learned that Christians have been called to serve God, not their own desires, likes and dislikes. When I became His, I began to realize the folly of insisting on my own way. So much of it had little, if any, good purpose, and actually was harming me. Several years of unchecked self- indulgence was exposed for what it was and I have struggled to commit those things to His lordship.

Besides the actions of indulgence, I’ve found that the inner attitudes that were behind those outward actions also need to be brought under the control of God. Deep “I wants”, if left alone, are harmful and interfere with all relationships and with the joy that God has for me.

But there are also legitimate likes and dislikes, such as sitting in “executive”, feet up, enjoying a slice of lemon. Is that wrong? The answer is not found in the thing enjoyed, putting it on a “condemned” list, and considering myself “spiritual” if I never do that again. The answer is inside me... and I can find out if I’m spoiling myself by asking myself a few questions:
1) Is this harmless thing bringing me closer to the Lord?
2) Will someone else suffer -any- loss whatsoever if I do this?
3) Have I met all my obligations and priorities... am I free to do it?
4) Would someone else be enticed to sin because of my example?
Perhaps some would cry “unfair” and “I can do what I like” ... but I have found that the bottom line is this: Putting myself at the center of my life, with no regard for the Lord, His will for me, or for the well-being of others, is the very essence of sin. And the wages of sin is death. Someone has to pay those wages.

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