Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Stolen Sacrifice, the Frustrated Monkey and the Happy Wife

Met Weizhu over lunch yesterday. What he told me was so inspiring, that I want to pen it down as a way to remind myself and share with you guys. :)

In case you haven't heard yet, he got rid of all his pirated stuff.

When he shared this news with me, I was so amazed. A lot of thoughts went through my mind, but the one that stood out was that this brother really has a lot of conviction. So I decided to follow his example, took out my laptop, and started deleting my own pirated stuff.

As he sat there watching, I remarked to him, "Hey... it occurred to me - I'll need some of the software for my design ministry..."

He said,
"Imagine you're a poor farmer in the Old Testament. You want to make a sacrifice to God. But all your cows are scrawny and sick. Then you look over your neighbour's fence and see... yes! a healthy-looking cow! So you steal your neighbour's cow and make your offering. Would God be happy with that?"

I looked at him and smiled.

He went on, "Actually, I was also worried about that. But God will provide for our needs..."

I exclaimed, "Oh! I see... even more when it's for ministry!"

"Yes! You got it."

I thought a while about what he had said, and envied his heart and conviction for God. So I felt very sad, discouraged and angry with myself because I felt that I didn't have his level of passion and joy. So I mentioned that to him.

He replied, "Actually, the problem is not that you hate sin, but rather, you hate the fact that you sin. Can you see the difference?"

The light started turning on in my head.

"You set your own standards, and when you can't meet up to your own standards, you feel angry with yourself. That's pride."

I nodded in agreement. Because that's what a legalist does - he/she sets up his own standards, and if he can meet his own standards, he starts thinking of himself as having pleased God, and therefore being very spiritual.

So he gave me this analogy:

"It's like a monkey climbing a tree. You are the monkey, and the tree represents righteousness. As we grow in our walk with God, we climb up, say 5 metres, and slip 4 metres. But we keep climbing and climbing...

Now what if the monkey climbs 5 metres and drops one metre? He starts focusing on the one metre he drops, and he's very frustrated about it. As a result of being so frustrated, he drops another 2 or 3 metres further. So don't waste all your energy that you spend in being angry and discouraged at your drop. Rather, focus on doing the positive things instead."

I thought about that for another while. Actually, I was still very confused about the difference between legalism and obedience. After all, isn't it important to obey God even when we don't feel like it? Besides, Jesus had prayed to the Father, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

So told him about this. He paused for a while, and then said,
"I think you're seeing it in this way:

if (do the right thing == true)
then God_will_be_pleased;

Say you bought flowers for your wife. You know that it'll make her happy. Even if you weren't around to see her smile when you left the flowers for her on the table before you went off to work, you'd know that she'll definitely be happy.

It's not if (i buy flowers for my wife) then (she will be happy).

rather, it's: Knowing(God_will_be_pleased) -> I_do_the_right_thing.

It's not, if I do the right thing, then God will be pleased. Actually, God IS pleased when we do something that is right."
I was puzzled. Then I thought about what he said about the happy wife... I imagined myself as the husband who buys flowers for his wife... not because he has to, but because he knows that his wife simply loves it, her eyes sparkling with delight, as she sees the flowers. He knows her heart, even if he can't see her smile.

Maybe you'll find it a bit hard to understand... think it's like that in any romantic relationship, where you buy gifts and flowers for your sweetheart, not because you're supposed to, but because just seeing him/her so happy simply makes your own heart jump for joy. You're happy BECAUSE he/she is happy.


Later that day, I went up to one of the roof-tops in Engineering Block E5. Was still quite confused, with all those things that WZ had told me swimming around in my head. So prayed, and then prayed some more. Then somehow, I'm not sure how, I think God helped me put 2 and 2 together, until I understood what WZ had told me.

It's quite hard to describe this understanding, I guess - kinda like doing long division... you've been struggling with it for a while, until it just falls into place, and the light comes to your eyes.

Personally, this renewed understanding about making God happy has helped me understand in a newer light Jesus' thirst to glorify and obey His Father... especially His statements to describe His relationship with the Father, such as: "I always do what pleases Him," and "but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

And that He IS sad when I choose to disobey Him...

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:66-67)

Surely... it's all about Jesus' heart, and not me. At the moment I'm writing this blog entry, I'm thinking of Him looking over my shoulder and looking at what I type. To be honest, I think He's not exactly super-delighted at the moment - this blog entry was written for my own personal reflection, not for His glory really. But I know He is patient with me, wanting me to grow in obedience to Him, because it makes Him smile when I do something good - "something that's of worth / that will bless Your heart..."

Think just want to encourage whoever's reading this (and congrats for making it this far!) with this promise from Hebrews 13:16:
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

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