Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tetchiness

"As we get older, we grow tetchy..." —James Wolcott

The troubles of old age can make us cranky and out of sorts, but we should never excuse these bouts of bad behavior, for they can wither the hearts of those we live with and love and spread misery all around us. We have not fulfilled our duty to those in our household until we have learned to be pleasant. 

Poet Hannah More wrote this:

Since trifles make the sum of human things,
And half our misery from our foibles springs;
Since life's best joys consist in peace and ease,
And though but few can serve, yet all can please;
Oh, let the ungentle spirit learn from hence,
A small unkindness is a great offense.

Ancient Greek philosophers had a word for the virtue that corrects our unpleasantness—praus, a term that suggests a kind, patient demeanor. A soul at rest. It was considered the queen of the virtues” for it governed and blessed all the rest. The author of the book of James, who understood the classical use of the word, describes the consummate good life as deeds done in the gentleness [prautes] of wisdom.” 

Praus has the power to be kind and considerate in the face of pain or disruption. It is willing to accept limitations and ailments without taking out our aggravation on others. It shows gratitude for the smallest service rendered and tolerance for those who do not serve us well. It puts up with bothersome people—especially noisy, boisterous little people, for kindness to children is a crowning mark of a good and gentle soul. It speaks softly in the face of provocation. It is silent, for calm, unruffled silence is often the most eloquent response to unkind words.

Jesus was (and is) gentle [praus] and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). If we ask Him, He will, in time, create His likeness in us. “From tones that jar the heart of another, from words that make it ache… from such, He (Jesus) was born to deliver us” (George MacDonald).

David Roper

10/24/16

Thursday, October 20, 2016

INTJ

Be sympathetic” (1 Peter 3:8).

The "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator" is a personality test designed to measure personality traits and the ways by which people relate to the world. According to their metric system I’m an I-N-T-J: an introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging person. That’s a fair appraisal of my personality, I suppose, though I must admit, after all these years, I don’t know myself very well.  

There's an upside to my personality type, but the downside is that I-N-T-Js tend to be detached, dispassionate and uncaring, in which case it’s easy for me to excuse my lack of compassion by saying, "That’s just me,” and settle for something less than that which God has in mind for me.

The nub of the matter lies here: I am not just an I-N-T-J; I am a S-I-N-N-E-R, and much oF my personality is still unconverted. Myers-Briggs makes no moral judgments, but I must do so. My indifference to pain and suffering is sin and very much unlike Jesus who was said, on many occasions, to be “filled with compassion” (Matthew 9:35 et. al.). I don’t want to be like me; want to be like Him!

That’s a tall order. Can a leopard change his spots? You bet! Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Change doesn’t necessarily come about easily or quickly; it may take place gradually over the course of many years, but God is determined to make new men and women of all of us if we keep asking for His help. John Donne said, “God is the alchemist who has wit (wisdom), and whose spark makes good things of bad.”

Hence my prayer: “And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you’ve got what it takes…” (Psalm 40:17, The Message)

David Roper
10/20/16

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rain

“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water.” —Psalm 65:9

 Camas Prairie, Idaho, photo by Josh Roper

Creation is a signpost pointing to God, but tragically, many people only look at the sign. C. S. Lewis observed that the modern world conditions us to a “doglike” state of mind. If, for example, you point at your dog’s food dish and say “eat,” he will stare at your finger, confusing the sign with the thing signified.

David saw rain as a sign that points us to God's eternal love for growing things. Rain is God "visiting the earth" to water and enrich it (65:9).

Showers sweep across the plowed ground, "watering its furrows, settling its ridges, softening the clods of dirt, blessing it with growth." Rain is God, "walking" through the earth like Johnny Appleseed (a US pioneer apple farmer and folk hero), leaving behind His bounty: "The paths on which He walks overflow with goodness" (65:10, 11).

Here's a dimension of truth you may have lost. It’s a vision, a perspective, a way of looking at things. It’s the capacity to see through things to what’s behind them rather than just at them.

Rain reveals the hand of God if we have eyes to see it. The little hills, the pastures, the valleys take in God's love and "shout for joy!" (v. 13).

So can we!

David Roper


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