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Monday, December 26, 2016

Psychological Reversal

Izaak Walton was an English writer who often spoke in terms of loss - not in a negative way, but in a very thought provoking manner. For example, he once said, "The person who loses his conscience has nothing left worth keeping." He also reminds us that "no man can ever lose what he never had". Probably one my favorite quotes from Mr. Walton is: "God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart."  He certainly hit that one on the head! I am certain God dwells in the heart of meek - for no other pursuit, self-help process, or therapy session can truly produce meekness in a man's heart. True thankfulness also springs forth from a heart that has become intimately acquainted with grace. Yes, we can be thankful without grace, but it is fleeting. Deep, lasting gratitude is only possible where grace has had an affect.

When the law came into the picture, sin grew and grew; but wherever sin grew and spread, God’s grace was there in fuller, greater measure. No matter how much sin crept in, there was always more grace. (Romans 5:20 VOICE)

Apart from grace's action, there can be no real change of heart - without a true change of heart, man will continue to choose things which end in loss for him - whether he likes it or not. Man cannot truthfully comprehend the depth of his need until he is faced with the beauty of grace. There is just something about grace that reveals the true self - the deepest longings of one's heart and the lame attempts we make to meet those needs in our own power or effort. Man might argue they don't like this idea of grace because it carries with it the idea of conviction, but I'd have to say that apart from conviction we don't appreciate the value of grace.


Why does sin grow in the presence of the law? Shouldn't it be just the opposite? Shouldn't the law produce something quite the opposite of "law-breaking"? You'd think that'd be the case, but in reality we have a way of seeing how close we can get to the line and even kind of "straddle" it on occasion without being "caught" by the law. Many of us have heard the term "reverse psychology" in which we say one thing while trying to get the person to do another, such as "kids stay in the house" when we actually are hoping they will go out and enjoy a little sunshine. 


Most of us have not heard the term "psychological reversal", though. This refers to the tendency one might exhibit to actually "sabotage" oneself through actions that seem contrary to what one would expect. For example, when someone can easily make friends because they are outgoing and engage in things that interest those who they are friends with, they may experience some "good feelings" from those friendships, but the psychologically reversed individual actually feels bad about feeling good! So, they do everything they can to create chaos in the relationship because they don't believe they are meant to feel good!


Some of us go through life thinking we should not feel good about grace. We are psychologically reversed in our thinking about grace! We think we are meant to experience "bad stuff" like conviction and shame, but we don't think we are "deserving" of the good feelings grace produces. Grace produces such feelings because we finally have an answer for our conviction and we come out from under that weight of shame! Like it or not, this is how God works - he wants us to feel good! He wants us to appreciate sin's weight and understand that there is a way "out from under" that weight - grace! 


A truly grateful heart springs from a heart willing to be embraced by grace - then holds on for dear life to the affects of grace to deal with the sense of conviction and the weight of shame that sin has produced in our lives. We can resist the "goodness" of grace all we want, thinking our sin should make us feel shame, but in God's economy there is no room for shame. Shame is not something we should live with - it is something "shed" at the moment we reach out to embrace grace! Just sayin!