A Monday post-mortem on a Friday night fight.
But the surprise breach of a delicate topic wasn’t the problem at all. It only revealed what was alive in cellar of our souls. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Our little quarrel clinic Friday night-our sinful acts- only revealed the sinful heart that’s usually hidden away.
The excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself.
That was it. As Jim and I examined our Friday night fight, we both included that piece. We were caught unaware: Jim by the subject itself, a bit of a touchy-topic, and me, by his airing of what I thought was a private matter. And so our sinfulness, not just our sin, was exposed.
Lewis continues his analysis, the anatomy-if you will-of unkind acts and angry words:
…Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
There you have it. The rats of self-pity and pride, resentment and anger are always there in the cellar of my soul. Suddenness and surprise just revealed them. They’re there hiding until I kill them off.
Paul and Peter and James knew about prowling pests. Be watchful, they all warned. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Be watchful and resist. Resist the prowling devil, firm in your faith, Peter wrote. Resist him and he will flee from you, James wrote.
But it’s not so much the devil outside. It’s the rats inside. I do not do the good I want, Paul wrote to the Romans, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. But, if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live (8:13). Until I kill them off, by the Spirit, they’re there, dwelling in me.
Blogger Lisa Spence observes,
How I react to the trial reflects what I really care about. This is an ugly truth, but one worth considering with great soberness. Whether it is a sudden devastation or a lingering irritation, what I value will be exposed by my reactions and most often this will require confession and repentance as I work through the sin and idols that are exposed.
Trials give us a sneak peek into the cellar of our souls. They remind us that we must be keep fighting, because sin is crouching at the door, desiring to have us. We must rule over it. As John Owen put it, Be killing sin or it will be killing you. We can welcome trials when we see them as a mercy; an exposing of idols and sin that would be killing us.
For us, a Friday night fight revealed the rats.
Maybe for you it was just a tactless text from a friend, or getting cut off in traffic. Or coming home from a long Monday at work or spending a hectic Tuesday at home only to find a note long buried in a backpack, Life-sized anteater model due Wednesday. Or maybe coming home, instead, to a clinic call with not so positive lab results.
In between tests, be watchful. And when they come, count it all joy.