Vanitas, Simon Renard De Saint-Andre (1613-1677)
Recently, my wife raised a critical eyebrow about how much I knew about a certain female pop-icon. My antennae went up. I caught the temptation to return to my old ways right about at my larynx, which is a good place to stop. In reality, I should have stopped it at my heart, but at that point better late than never.
In the past, I would have gotten defensive about what and who I know. I would have either truly not known or feigned not knowing what Gwen was talking about (That's terrible isn't it?). If I did acknowledge that I knew what she was talking about, I would have been dismissive of Gwen's concerns. I would have rejected her values and clung tightly onto my own. As awful as it sounds, I might have mocked her for not being "up" on current culture. I would have tried to minimize her criticism by pointing out how well I was doing in other areas of my life (Even that would be a stretch). I might try to compare myself to others in a positive light. I've even been known to pull the old "in the world, but not of it" defense.
Hoping to stop temptations at my heart in the future, I'm trying to process why and where I go in my thoughts and in my spirit. I think there's a healthy tension that's precipitated by the sort of criticism that Gwen gave me. I have to remind myself that I shouldn't be above searching for the seed of truth in any criticism that comes my way. I try to remind myself that, as a Believer, I should welcome the testing of my faith. Because that's what Gwen was doing. I have to remind myself that I should constantly be checking and questioning my motives and values because I have a propensity to adopt worldly perspectives if I am not careful.
You might ask yourself what I mean when I use the term "worldly." I have come to believe that any unbalanced, out of proportion, attention to the sensuality that God blessed us with is worldly. Also, Thomas Aquinas enumerated the "cardinal" or "seven deadly sins" as:
These would seem to cover the worldly value system pretty well. Certainly, being in the world but not of it, I walk the tightrope between the values of the world and God's values. It is a very rigorous and unrelenting walk. I think James's warning to teachers extends to those in leadership positions (including husbands!). We will incur a stricter judgment. God help me and you! And he has given us husbands good help in our wives. Thank you, God, for them.
"You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4