Posted by: William | May 4, 2008

When I’ve Acted Very Stupidly

How should we respond to ourselves when we do very stupid things?

I read a book recently that discussed some of the philosophies concerning decision making. The author was discussing the idea that people always make decisions based on their greatest desire—always, without any exceptions. That seems to make sense to me. You figure, when we do things we don’t want to do it’s almost always to the end of either avoiding a less desirable circumstance, or a more desirable reward. When it comes to Christians, it’s a mix of that but also of shifting our desires to match God’s. So theoretically, in any given situation, our greatest desire would be for God, or more specifically, God’s will and so even temporal pleasures or displeasures would fall by the wayside.

Although I reckon there’s more to that discussion than what I’ve just summed up right there, I think the principle is true. And I can clearly see that I exhibit that in my day to day life. Here is the trouble, sometimes when I make decisions it’s obvious that my greatest desire isn’t for God, or his will. It usually isn’t long before I figure out that I’ve acted foolishly and gone off wishing for things of the world instead of God.

And so the question stands. Upon discovering my own foolish desire and subsequent sin, what is the correct response? I know that in an ideal sense, I am to run headlong to the cross. Take my sin and my foolishness to Christ and let him mend the wrongs I’ve committed. His work is already done; I couldn’t add to it, even if I wanted to. It’s for that reason that there can be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But that still begs the question what am I to do? If you act as stupid and as often as I do, you’ll know the predicament. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning and act very stupidly again, but historically speaking, I likely will. This perplexity stands to stunt my growth in Christ.

Because of this indecision, every moronic step I take sets me back. Despite plenty of fodder directing otherwise, it often takes hours, sometimes even days, to re-approach God in his word or in prayer. In this way, the Catholic practice of penance seems appealing. As if I could somehow work my way back onto God’s good side. Once penance is done, I once again have a right to commune with God. Of course, I know that I never, in and of myself, have a right to commune with God and to think I could work for it is preposterous.

So I’m left without an answer to this question. What is the right thing to do when you’ve acted very stupidly and you know it? I haven’t a clue. But I’m glad that my hope doesn’t hinge on my getting it right.

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Responses

  1. Man, can I relate to this. I am currently reading Desiring God by John Piper right now. You have read this already right? In it Piper says the pursuit of pleasure is not optional. It is essential. The subtitle for his book is Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.

  2. Like Ric, I can also relate to this…all to well.

    You said that theoretically our desire should be for the Lord. That is the way things should be, but even with the covering of Grace, we still have to fight the sinful nature within that exists on this side of heaven. Sometimes I think we are our own biggest hinderances in our walk with Christ.

    Your post reminds me of something Paul writes in 1 Timothy. I like the wording in NIV for this particualr passage…specifically in how Paul describes the Lord’s patience in vs. 16. Actually, I find it to be quite beautiful. Enjoy!

    “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man…The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly…Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his UNLIMITED patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1Tim 1:12-17, emphasis mine)

  3. sorry…I didn’t realize the comment would be that long.

  4. i like this…even besides the desire to cry that welled up in me because of being able to relate. I appreciate this approach and attitude toward sin, thanks for sharing yourself.

  5. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Rom 7:15

    and

    like the addict I crave just one more hit!
    in agony you scream in church I sit.
    (from Life was so simple)

    You, me, and Paul should go out for a cold one sometime.

    That’s prob not the right answer, huh?

  6. That’s actually strikingly apt.

  7. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong but this has been on my mind about my own life:

    At any given moment in our minds, God is offering us his truth and Satan is offering us his lies and we are left somewhere in the middle to decide, to choose a path. At any moment we are either walking out to the wolves to be devoured or we are following after the good shepherd. When we do stupid things, we believe a lie from Satan about our lives or ourselves. And then those lies become our truth, defining us and propelling us to act in disappointing ways. Usually we feel ashamed and beat ourselves up over what we’ve done but we need to acknowledge that we’ve been lied to, we agreed to the lie and then we need to repent that we believed Satan and ask that God would reveal to us the lies and truth in our heads, that God would clearly define his truth and clearly point out the lies. We need to pray against that lie and that God would deliver us from believing it. And a prayer that we would believe God more. That’s all he’s asked of us. The one thing he is asked is that we simply believe. Easier said sometimes. And sometimes it means praying also that God would convict our hearts about our actions so we grow disgusted with the fruit of believing lies. So that we grow less tempted to do those actions and keep watch for lies suggested in our minds. Maybe that’s part of the answer.

    I don’t know. Hopefully you know what I mean. Sometimes I’m not great at articulating myself.

  8. Another thought: God wants us to love others even in their sin… so perhaps we should also strive to be kind and gentle and loving with ourselves in our own sin. There is hope and we need to believe that we are fluid, organic, always changing… and things will not always be the same because the Lord can deliver us from anything and we should not define who we are by our sin. We live in His grace.


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