I spent some time cleaning under my patio furniture last Saturday. There was a lot of dirt and many leaves caught there by cobwebs. It was impossible to simply sweep it all away; I had to disentangle the webs first.
I considered how difficult it is it clean out my heart, and I wondered what holds those sins and weaknesses there like cobwebs. In my case, wrong thinking is major. Maybe you also find it easy to return to old patterns of thought, which lead to negative attitudes about others. Possibly you blame them for your own sins and mistakes because of past experience. Maybe you react to someone based on what you imagine she is thinking rather than her actual words.
I tend to be very impatient with a certain person. Why? Because of thinking built on the past. When I interact with her now, the cobwebs of previous conversations catch me and I rarely show the fruit of the Spirit. Instead, I act in the flesh—sin.
By God’s grace, I am working to disentangle those patterns. Paul says, “Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8, NET). When I quit imagining her negative thoughts or dwelling on past problems to focus on the present and what is true and good about her, I find myself showing her grace and kindness.
Is there someone with whom you repeatedly fail to reflect the love and grace of God? Is there a thinking pattern in that relationship that doesn’t measure up to Phil. 4:8?
Confess your sins to God and to the person, if needed. Copy this verse and put it in front of your phone as a handy reference. Memorize it and pray that God’s Spirit will prick your conscience when you begin to reconstruct the cobwebs of wrong thinking. Share the outcome here to encourage the rest of us!
This was originally posted 10/11/10 on Beyond, which is no longer online.