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the mental resume

It was a rainy and gray day with some chill last week when I went to a funeral. Is there any other type of day on which to have a funeral? Livia wore her rainboots and we forced ourselves out of the house and into the quiet sanctuary.


We listened to words about a woman who faithfully and generously lived her life with concern for others. It inspired and encouraged me, as it is supposed to do -- that when we remember the life of a faithful person, we remember the Source of her gifts, and how that Source is available to each one of us also.


"And the Lord make you increase and abound in love one toward another. Let's do that. Let's let the Lord make us increase and abound. It's too easy for all of us to get wrapped up into our own lives, our own wants, our own desires, to get so wrapped up into what me, I want that it blinds me to see another's. But when we do have that compassion, that foresight of seeing the needs of our brethren, seeing the needs of others, the Lord will make us increase."


But we don't do it to be seen.

Matthew 25 recounts this: "And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"


We have this tendency to develop a mental resume of sorts, each of us in our own minds... a running list of the good we have done. We use it to remind ourselves of our worth and to assure ourselves we are doing ok. Sometimes in our weaker moments it even comes out in our conversations with other people -- all the things we're doing, and have done. Sometimes it's well-disguised, looking like humility but it's actually a brag. Other times it's just in our heads, but it still controls our actions, because we are still building our self-worth around ourselves.


The mental resume is really dangerous because it can become a weapon in two ways:

  1. We can use it to justify ourselves. I see it all the time in my children, that when they are reprimanded they often try to get out of some trouble by telling all of the good things that they have done. Over and over we have to be reminded: that no amount of good can outweigh the bad, unless the blood of Jesus is involved. Justification is only in Jesus.

  2. We can use it to judge others. Unable to see the full picture like God does, we start to compare all of our best to all of their worst and begin operating out of an inaccurate conclusion that we have things figured out.


But there is no mental resume in Matthew 25. There is no recollection or remembrance of one's own good deeds. There is only humble action, borne out of real faith (because that is the only kind of faith that there is, is faith that produces action), that does not keep score.




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