TAKING INVENTORY

I’m taking inventory right now. I’m going through drawers, closets, and even some storage boxes that I haven’t opened in a while. Each item inside faces a precarious future. If I haven’t used it in a long while and it holds no sentimental value, it is destined for the sell, donate, or pitch pile.

I actually really enjoy this job. As I thin down the number of items in my house it begins to feel like I have more breathing space. Granted, most of the space is in places no one really looks, but it feels better to know the space is there.

Another perk to this work is I find things that I have forgotten about or have lost track of. Some of them come out to enjoy a new life and usefulness; others proceed to the pile of uncertainty.

I find that I need to take another kind of inventory on a regular basis, as well. It’s sometimes easy to coast along in our spiritual, interior lives and assume that all is well. If we don’t feel uneasiness or aren’t experiencing conflict, we can fail to assess whether our thoughts and actions are really following the truth of God’s word.

That’s a dangerous place to live, because we are far more easily influenced by everything we are exposed to than we think we are. We hear or read something that reinforces our natural bent and soon we are cruising along the road of self-justification absolutely convinced that God completely agrees with us. We seem to think that if we claim to be Christians we are automatically in the right and God sanctions our views and methods.

This is a recipe for disaster. We must remain aware that our human nature is alive and well, and our enemy knows exactly how to whisper those half-truths that appeal to our egos. We must constantly be in the practice of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. He calls us to this: “…with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” (Philippians 2:3-7)

As we read the Gospels we find that Jesus did not spend His time and energy fixing things, He spent His time loving sinners. The ones He took issue with were the religious who assumed God was on their side and agreed with their views and lives. It looked like they were the ones in the right on that terrible Friday, but all along He was working to turn the religious out and invite the sinners in.

So we need to take this inventory. We need to evaluate our views and opinions and see if they reflect the heart of Christ. We need to listen to how our words sound to sinners and if they invite them in or slam the door. We need to set aside posture and politics and go back to loving people, all people. We will find much that needs to be thrown out, for sure. But we may also rediscover some treasures of gratitude, humility, and compassion that we had lost track of. Jesus was able to speak truth with grace and mercy, and He will enable us to do the same if we are willing.

Bringing our hearts, minds, and words into alignment with the humility of Christ does not come naturally. It requires deliberate attention and a surrendered heart to lay aside the pride of self-righteousness and let Jesus direct our hearts.

But it is worth it. The salvation of sinners is worth it. He is worth it.

2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 2:3-7

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