In my last post, we talked about “sitting in it” so that we can identify the motives of our hearts. Here’s a further way of “sitting” as given by Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Idols of the Heart, a book I’ve highly recommended in the past (P & R Publishing). She says to ask four questions:
1. What do I believe about the source of true happiness in this circumstance?
2. What do I believe about God in this circumstance?
3. What do I believe about myself–my rights, my goals, my desires?
4. What am I trusting in? (page 119).
Ms. Fitzpatrick frames these questions with the example of someone habitually becoming angry when criticized:
This would be that person’s answers:
First question: “I’m believing that happiness can be found only when others respect me.“
Second question: “I believe that if He were good He would protect me from attack.”
Third question: “I believe I have a right to be respected on the job. I think I should never be criticized.”
Fourth question: “Instead of trusting in God–that He has allowed this difficulty into my life for my good (and ultimate happiness)—I’m trusting that people have the power to make me happy. (pages 120-121).
Can you see how these questions go to the motives? Our natural reaction is to vow, “I’ll just never get angry again when someone criticizes me.” (By the way, how’s that working for ya?) Instead, I can repent of distrusting God and surrender by rehearsing that He knows what’s best for me–even if it’s being criticized.
She continues, “Instead of just trying to control my temper when I’m criticized, for instance, I need to understand that the reason I’m angry is because I crave and worship other people’s opinions of me. I need to repent of my thoughts about myself and agree with God that only He is worthy of praise (at the same time that I repent of my sinful anger.)” (pages 120-121).
This is so powerful for getting to the root of our ungodly reactions. We’re not just putting a band–aid on our cut, but we’re suturing the cut closed to be able to heal. We’re “sitting” in the underlying causes of our reactions.
What ungodly reaction do you have? Please use Ms. Fitzpatrick’s four questions (and consider purchasing her book!). If you would share your answers with my readers in the comments box, it would help all of us in our own walk with the Lord.