Sweating the Small Stuff

Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   ...    Hebrews 12:1-2 (ASV)

   Jesus struggled with the pain of complete surrender to the Father’s will. He sweat great drops of blood in agony (Luke 22:44). What got him through this severe struggle? How could the Master of the universe endure such ill treatment when He had all the power to stop it? Paul gives us the answer – “…for the joy that was set before Him.” He despised the shame and endured the cross. He endured until the end.

   Really? Oh boy, I am so far from this concept. What about ill treatment from the cashier at Walmart or the driver that cuts in front of me? Do I think nothing of the public contempt in these situations? On my best day I actually look beyond the attitude to see how I can bless this person who is obviously having an unhappy day (or an unhappy life). That is on a good day. On most days, I identify more with the pitiful martyr in me wondering why they don’t have better training programs for employees or more police on the force to write tickets for rude drivers when you need it. Heaven forbid I practice agony and the resistance of my flesh to respond to sinners in the same manner as my Lord!

   What does my failure all point to? Self-centeredness, entitlement, personal rights… all that is contrary to the Spirit of God that endowed me with the ability to be a true witness (martyr) for Him. Jesus agonized. It is OK to agonize when we encounter ill-treatment and trials. Jesus sweat. Our flesh may sweat over trials. But He endured! The very people who caused His agony would be the ones to benefit from His painful encounter with death. Who are the ones who will benefit from our painful encounter with the death of our lower nature; the disgrace we may suffer; the ill-treatment we endure? It may be the ones who deliver the ill-treatment or it may be the ones watching on as we endure with grace the things we suffer from the sinful and the selfish.   

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.”  ...  Isaiah 53:11 (ASV)

   That one always gets to me. God was actually satisfied with the agonizing of his Son because it produced many sons and daughters for the Kingdom! This puts a whole new perspective on sweating the small stuff and then following Jesus to the hard places.

   I want to practice enduring ill-treatment patiently for my sake, for my children, and posterity’s sake, and mostly for the Kingdom of Heaven. Every time I crucify my flesh, I am sending out an invitation to participate in the life of God. Just as Christ’s death brought opportunity to all, the death of my lower nature invites others to participate in heaven’s journey.

   I will not stress about sweating, since I know that Jesus sweat, also, but I will remember to look at the joy set before me (heavenly rewards) in all of these situations. Let’s remember that our own selfish condition contributed to the drops of blood that our Lord shed. The agony we suffer for resisting evil is a sweet fragrance to our Father. The death of our lower nature emits the fragrance of a surrendered life. It is the only type of sweating that smells good.

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Posted by John Doe on 08-May-2019 at 16:24:24 EST
Subject: Devotional

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