My son is a pretty decent baseball player…for a five year old.
He’d rather me not have added those last five words. He wants to be, at the age of five, a better baseball player than the guys that he watches on television with his daddy*. But he’s not. And this makes him really angry and sometimes even makes him want to give up altogether.
When he falls to the ground and cries because he strikes out I want to pick him up and say, “Dude, you’re five. Suck it up, you’re gonna strike out.”
I think the Lord says something similar to me at times. “Dude, you’ve been plucked out of the fire. What did you expect? Suck it up, you’re going to blow it in your discipleship. You aren’t Jesus, you’re going to blow it at times in your ministry. Get over it!”
When I assume that I should have arrived by now, my pride is exposed. John Newton explains well:
Why then should you complain that you are not so tall, nor your branches so wide, nor your root so deep, in two years’ growth, as others who have been growing twenty or thirty years?…Do not let Satan impose a false humility upon you. Depend upon it there is more of self and self-righteousness in these complaints, than we are usually aware of. It is better to be thankful for what you have received than impatient because you have no more. If you can make yourself better, do it by all means; but if you cannot, wait simply the Lord’s time, at the Lord’s feet. If you heart is upright, you have only to attend to the means and precepts of grace.
An unhealthy focus on our depravity and weaknesses is unhealthy. Satan is more than happy to have us licking our wounds if it distracts us from finding true redemption and healing in Jesus. That is what Newton is saying here. Our duty is to run to Christ and be diligently engaged in the disciplines which put us in the path of grace. Whining about our lack of grace in an area does very little to help us.
Newton went on to say, “one look at the brazen serpent will do more than a month of looking at our own wounds”. Being focused on our rebellion, remaining sin, inadequacies, and personal brokenness is to foolishly stare at the conquered serpent instead of rejoicing in the conquering work of the One that represents the brazen serpent.
Diligently pursue Christ and be content with where he has you.
*Granted, since we watch the Kansas City Royals the bar is much lower and he is actually quite close to the talent level of some.