Be willing to associate with people of low position...
Today was a harder day than some previous ones. Later in the day, I started getting more pain. Like I've said in previous posts, I'm a wuss about pain. I easily get discouraged. As a result, when I got home from work, I was pretty discouraged and started thinking more about death than life. It's a painful mental cycle where I can get absorbed in jealousy, anger and irritability.
However, God's grace came in a neat way today... true to His pattern of matching grace with the pains of the trial. I was doing a quick Bible time with my Sweet Pea on Romans 12:9-21. Since the life lessons of Romans 12-16 are built on the truth of the Gospel in Romans 1-11, we went line by line on why the commands of Romans 12:9-21 make sense in light of the Gospel.
We asked: "why do we associate with people of low position in light of the Gospel?" We covered Jesus' ministry to whores, beggars and thieves, the riff raff of his core disciples (by human standards), etc. But, as we talked, what broke me? That He associated with me.
Before God saved me, I was a mess. At the Air Force Academy squadron I was in, after the first semester, I was the guy whom no one wanted to room with. I was bitter, awkward, rude and poison to the military teamwork we were supposed to be building. As a result, I got paired with the undesirable other guy no one else wanted to room with: the one who didn't take showers and didn't use soap. His BO was so bad, it had the same effect of a smoker's scent: it got into the clothes of everyone, infected the room with a pervasive smell, and was very painful to endure. Yet, in all that, I was still the worse roommate. I guess you could say I was a metaphorical leper.
However, there were two guys who knew what I needed, J and R befriended me. They knew the true prognosis of my condition: I needed Christ, and led by His Spirit, they endured over 6 months of my abuse before God's grace won me for eternity. They were Christ's hands to me.
Back to today. Romans 12:16 caught my attention because as God reminded me that He associated with me, He broke my selfish introspection, and I was able to repent and therefore praise Him once again for the one promise that cannot be taken away: Christ and reunion with my heavenly Father through Jesus. You could say He broke the leper mentality in me today. When I get discouraged about my physical condition and the threat to my life that it brings, I start to view myself as a leper... like someone who needs to isolate himself from the "clean" people out there. The downward spiral of the leper mentality can be incapacitating, when I really need to be anything but that. My wife and my children and those near me need to hear of God's grace and what He is doing to manifest His glory. They won't hear it if I let myself become a leper.
I'm thankful today, that like Matthew 8, Jesus still touches lepers. If I can remember that all the time, maybe I can do what He really wants me do with this trial: be His hands to touch other lepers.