Let me explain. Late Thursday evening, I e-mailed a couple of girlfriends inviting them to go see the movie Fireproof with me. I explained that as this movie deals with the weighty questions of marriage, sacrificial love, divorce, etc., I would love the opportunity to see the movie with them. I suggested that we take our Bibles to Starbucks after the movie to discuss how we thought the movie handled these concepts and what we, as single women, could do to think rightly about and prepare well for marriage. I was very excited about opening God's Word with these two women. So excited in fact that I downplayed that I had verbally told another friend that I had no plans for Friday night, thus committing to spending the evening with her.
On Friday morning, I rationalized that we hadn't set up specific plans for the evening; she had simply asked if I was free and let me know that her husband was working for the weekend. And, I thought, how encouraging it would be to spend the evening with my sisters in Christ as we discussed God's Word and how we could hold each other accountable to exhibiting godly qualities in any relationships we might have.
I set up a time to meet my girl friends, and even called the friend I had made plans with to ask her to reschedule. She graciously (yet honestly) agreed to make alternate plans for herself and see me another time so that I could go to the movies with the other ladies. And then--praise the Lord--the Holy Spirit deepened the unease He'd been placing in my spirit all morning.
"What business do you have going to talk about loving and serving someone well when you are breaking your word with another person to do so? Can you ask someone else for integrity in his/her speech if you so easily change plans with someone you love?"
And it hit me. I selfishlessly wanted to talk about the servanthood in marriage issue with my two friends. I wanted it so badly that I was willing to leave a long time friend alone for the evening and expected her seal of approval to do so because I was ditching her to do such a godly thing. I was taking advantage of the fact that she has been my friend for years and would forgive me for backing out on our plans for more exciting ones.
The complete lack of regard for another person brought me up short. If I selfishly put my own desires before my friends' feelings and my own integrity because I am comfortable with them, then I will, quite likely, do the same with my husband.
I was given a unique opportunity to practice true love with a sister in Christ and failed miserably. I am humbled by the fact that I was unaware of the temptation to sin until after I had sinned. My mindset was completely unguarded.
This reminds me of Paul's words in Romans 7:21-25a, "So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my [body] another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in [me]. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Praise the Lord that Jesus Christ is working redemption and freedom in me for without Him I am bound to sin even when I desire to do the right thing (Rom. 8:1-11; Phil. 1:6)!
Finally, what must change because of this experience?
- I must make it a conscious effort to practice integrity in every relationship I have.
- I must make it a concerted discipline to choose the other person's best interest with everyone I come in contact with (from my boss and coworkers and my friends to my roommate and my family) and not just my future husband, sons, and daughters.
- I must continue to ask myself if I am guilty of taking advantage of those people closest to me.
- I must guard myself against focusing on serving one person to the detriment of others and ask myself if I am overlooking anyone in my desire to serve certain individuals.
- I must remember Philippians 2:3-8--"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."