True Spirituality Is Measured By What You Do When You Think You Have Everything To Lose

One of the most telling moments in the Gospels occurs when there is an attempt made to drive a wedge between Jesus Christ and John the Baptist over their popularity. As human beings, we tend to naturally feel encouraged when our efforts appear to be bearing fruit, and correspondingly discouraged when we feel that we are spinning our wheels to no effect. The response of John the Baptist, in John 3:29-31, is instructive in this regard: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” Here we see no jealous posturing or bitterness about someone who has risen up and gained the attention of the crowds. Instead, we see a humble acceptance of one’s place, and a joy in the success of others, even if it may come at the expense of the attention and respect we wish for ourselves.

As I have commented on before [1], I have learned to my chagrin in life that there is always something left to lose, even when one thinks one has lost everything. Our character is tested the most when we face the loss of what we hold dear, even if it may not be something we actually possess, and even if others are not really threatening it. Yet it is in acting in fear instead of love that we show our lack of spirituality, although to have fear itself is not a problem. It would be hard to imagine a life, given what I have endured, that would be without a great deal of fear that was felt, even if it was overcome. It is when fear rules us, however, that we find ourselves lacking in spirituality, since it is the rulership of fear that tends to spur on those actions that show a deficit of virtue, such as an inability to show outgoing love and concern for others, a desire to shirk responsibilities, and also a tendency to think the worst of others instead of the best.

We all have a limited supply of time to devote to anything. What do we choose to fill our time with? Do we spend the time reaching out to others, seeking for connection in our life, service, involvement, or do we spend it only on ourselves? Our time suggests those areas in life where have the most to lose, and it is little wonder that so much of that time is either spent in labor or in entertainment. Either we work for a living, to provide for our basic necessities and the little extras of life, or we spend our times trying to distract ourselves from a sense of responsibility. To find balance in life is difficult, all the more because we are pulled in different directions by our fears and longings. And yet how we handle those determines the sort of people we really are. This is an area of life that gives me a great deal of concern, and I must admit that I do not feel certain about how I will be judged for it when I stand to account for my life, but I hope God is more merciful to me than I am to myself. Indeed, we could all wish for that, no matter how well we happened to live our lives.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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