The layers of my personality and my sin, and how they interact and fit together are deep. Unfathomable. The only one who can probe those depths truly is the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb and who remembers every moment of my life; every motive, every memory, every decision, and every circumstance prompting all that I’ve done or didn’t do. I remember so little of my life; how could I really ever know myself truly or interpret myself accurately? I must interpret in light of God’s truth, revealed in his Word, and believe that what he says of me is sufficient for all my time here on earth.
In light of the knowledge that I cannot fully comprehend all my motives or reasons for acting, I can still see a pattern of sin that is not uncommon to many. It is the lack of putting whole effort into something, and the desire to do ‘just enough’ to get by. When faced with the flaws of one’s personality, thoughts can become daunting, and lead to a variety of fears that stifle any attempt to be truly wholehearted in what she is supposed to do.
It can be discouraging, and cause sorrow upon sorrow, to recognize that instead of being mastered by the God who knows the depths of one’s personality, we can let ourselves be mastered instead by the fear of what may be.
Sometimes, the fear of what may be is the resultant pride that could be waiting on the other side of a good effort put forth, and it can cripple. When fearing pride is the current ruling master of one’s thoughts, it can be a paralyzing idea that pride will again be the same ruler after all is said and done. Then, instead of putting out the effort, all effort is stifled and avoided, and God is not glorified.
I think of this and wonder, has anyone really, ever given their all? Even among the “competitive” personalities? Are there really those who have given their every effort, worked truly hard and diligently, for whatever it is they do? And after all is said and done, after this wholehearted effort given, is there truly any who have ever done it purely? Who, when on the other side of their hard work, have finished and received praise for a job well done, and have actually responded rightly? Who have not bowed down and submitted themselves to the rule of pride?
Surely there must only be one. One, who did his task with all his energy, all his willpower, all his strength. Yes, there was one, and it was Christ. It was he alone who worked hard, wholeheartedly, tirelessly, enduringly, non-competitively, without apathy, without laziness, and fearing nothing about results from his completed task.
It was Christ, who, on the other side, when the job was done and done well, remained constant and unchanged in personality, in motive, in response, in mindset, in goals, in priorities, and in role. It was he who remained focused on his purpose, determined to continue on to the next task, continuing his work, and continuing in obedience. Who did not attempt to do more or less than what his assignment was, but rather did exactly what he was meant for. There has only been one who knew himself truly, knew his ability, and knew that instead of ever being ruled by the sin of pride, he alone had the authority to conquer it.
This ought to convict us, humble us, and also give us great peace. It ought to put our minds and thoughts in a right place as we see our gifts, tasks, talents, and roles in light of what Christ did and how he did it. Even when our personalities are inclined to give valiant effort in tasks he gives us, our imperfect perfection cannot compare to his perfect perfection. Our personality and sin working together is unfathomably deep to us, but it is not to him. He knew this as he went forth in his task. It takes wholehearted effort to empty oneself in order to bring wholehearted assurance to the one who cannot.
Praise to the One who gives us the opportunity and the command to press on and forget what lies behind us! The half efforts, the false efforts, the fear or pride, and the shame of it all. And praise to the One who gives us cause to look forward and strive forward in faith as we find assurance in him that all our efforts to follow him, serve him, obey him, adore him – feeble though they may be – will be happily and gladly seen by the God who created us and understands us better than we understand ourselves, in light of his Son’s valiant, complete effort.