Since being diagnosed with cancer in December my wife and I have been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity. Our church family has been wonderful as have our blood family, relatives, and friends.
The result of being on the receiving end of such generosity has been to make me desire to be more generous myself. I’m fairly certain that I’ve shed more tears as a result of people’s generosity than I have from the cancer situation itself. I did nothing to deserve anyone’s generosity and so it hits me emotionally every time.
By God’s grace this isn’t a debtors ethic that I’m carrying around. That is, I don’t feel I have to pay people back because they have paid me with something. Rather, the grace of others toward me has shown me how beautiful it is to give and has made me want to be that way toward others.
And isn’t that how it’s supposed to be with our relationship with God? His grace toward us is not license to sin further or seek to pay him back – as though God needs anything from us! It compels us and transforms us to love him more and obey out of a joyful and glad heart rather than through strict requirement.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. – Paul, Romans 6:1-4 (TNIV).
As I write the first text study on the Gospel of John (due out tomorrow), I continue to wrestle with a life long challenge: perfectionism. I know this gets used as the example for weakness often in job interviews, since it can be used as a strength, but this isn’t a job interview so I’m sure you’ll forgive me!
The funny thing about perfectionism is it cannot be attained in most respects. Sure I can set small and easy goals for myself and complete them, but rarely does that constitute perfectionism. Rather, goals are set up that are often beyond what is capable or sensible.
With respect to the John blog posts, I want to be able to work away at them forever. I want to have analyzed and considered all the linguistic evidence before I publish them. But, nothing would ever come out and I would quit the blog.
I read this today in a preface: “The writing of this book has taken five years, and had I realized at the outset the scale of the task I was undertaking, I am not sure I would have had the courage to begin” (Horrocks, Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers). And in John commentaries I frequently see it mentioned that many writers have undertaken to write these commentaries but they had to be finished by others because they died before they could finish them! This testifies to that massive task that writing something on John can be and to a host of other factors, not least of which may be perfectionism.
I’m glad I didn’t think too hard about starting up this blog with the goals I had in mind because, like the writer quoted above, I probably would not have had the courage to begin. But, the content I produce cannot be helpful if it is not shared with others. And it cannot be refined by others if it is not shared with them.
With those thoughts in mind, I press forward, knowing that my studies will be far from perfect but I pray that they still yet will remain helpful.