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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Litmus Test


 1 If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction! 
(Proverbs 12:1 The Message)

If you've read even one of my blog posts, you will know that I love to learn new meaning of words, explore how things work, and to simply understand the "why" behind things.  I have a mind that works almost all the time - finding myself awaking in the night hours with ideas for the next blog, "fixes" to something that is needing my attention at work or at home, etc.  I have had friends ask, "Don't you every just 'shut-off' and chill?"  I guess that I'd have to say that I do, but it is just like taking a dimmer switch and turning down the "intensity" a little!  The light just never is completely shut off!

The passage today deals with a "test" - kind of like a little litmus test - to be able to tell if we really love being a disciple of Christ.  The first part of this verse is the "set up", or the condition we look to have answered by the end of the verse.  In other words, the writer 'sets up' the question:  Do you love learning?  Then gives us the 'evidence' that we do:  Then you love the discipline and correction that goes with it!  So, the 'litmus test' confirms our commitment to being a disciple of Christ by the attitude we take toward correction.

Uh oh!  Now I have gone to meddling a little!  Yep, just like Jesus goes to "meddling a little" in our minds and hearts!  The simple truth is quite evident - Jesus wants us to equate his discipline (correction) with his love.  Before I go any further, let me just say that many have a negative perception of "discipline".  This may be as a result of some authority figure using very negative and hurtful means to "discipline" in our past.  If that is the case, let me assure you that God's discipline is not like that.  In fact, his discipline embraces us - it never drives us away.  His discipline guides us - it does not make unrealistic demands of us.  His discipline is meant for correction - not to diminish us or release his anger in outbursts of emotion.

The discipline of discipleship begins with a change of mindset and heart-set.  As we begin to step out in obedient trust that God intends for "good" to be the outcome of our steps, we begin to encounter things in our past that affect the way we think and act in our present.  We call this "awareness".  We begin to sense that the "old way" of responding, the "practiced" way of responding, to things that life sends our way may not always be the desired way to handle them.  For example, the tendency to get caught up in office gossip is an alluring part of our past.  As we begin to grow in Christ, that tendency to gossip brings with it a little "twinge" of guilt (a feeling that something is not quite right).  The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we become aware that this "habit" of our past is not to be the "pattern" of our present.

Our mind is being challenged to think differently and our heart is being softened by the presence of the Spirit of God within us.  As this occurs, we begin to associate the "twinges of guilt" with loving urges to not engage in those things that God declares to be sinful, unwise for our lives, or simply just not wholesome.  As our love for Jesus' best in our lives grows, so does our desire to respond to his corrective leading.  If you really want to "test" if you are growing in Christ, you simply have to look at how you are responding to his correction!