Glorious Failure

Life is a long series of failures. Here's to failing gloriously!

Tag: Love

On Fatherhood and Snotty Shirts

I was at Home Depot last night buying light bulbs for the house. It was a family trip, and my wife and I had split the kids. She had our one month-old daughter. I had our two year-old son.

I hate referring to kids as snot-nosed because it demeans a beautiful and precious gift from God, which they are. But as in last night’s case, my son actually had a snotty nose. He has a bit of a cold it seems.

As I was patiently pondering the pros and cons of LED versus incandescence, my son decided he had waited in the cart long enough. He wanted to get down and explore. So he stood up in the cart, threw his leg over the side, and began to climb down. He quickly lost his balance. Sensing immediate danger I lunged to the cart just in time to scoop him into my arms and prevent his fall.

Whew! Catastrophe averted in the Home Depot tonight! I was relieved.

In my urgency I grabbed my son any way I could. It so happened that I was holding his chest against my chest and his face was planted on my shoulder. When he righted himself and sat up in my arms my shirt now prominently displayed the contents of what had been, only moments ago, in my son’s nose. My shirt now had a three-inch green stripe across the left shoulder. If you didn’t know better you might have mistaken me for a pilot!

I placed my son safely back in the cart, along with whatever bulb was in my hand at the moment, and headed for the check out. While en route I glanced down in disgust at my shirt’s new adornment. I was quite displeased by the unsanitary nature of it. Ick! I loathe having bodily fluids on my clothing. I rather like to be clean.

However, I then directed my eyes down toward my son. He was smiling–filled with glee to behold the many wondrous sights a home improvement store has to behold an impressionable young toddler. My frustration could not be rightly directed at him. After all it wasn’t his fault.

Now I’ve only been a father for a few years. And I detest the stereotype that parents live in messy homes doomed to perpetual chaos and that they always wear dirty clothes because their children continuously soil them. I shudder to think I fulfill that stereotype. Rather I work to reverse it fastidiously.

But in this moment last night at Home Depot I realized something. Yes I am a father, and yes I have a massive snot wad on my shirt. That cannot be denied. And I suppose to be fair then, I should have to at least entertain the possibility for discussion whether or not I fulfill this awful stereotype. Fair enough. But in this moment I lost no degree of disgust against wearing mucous for all to see. I loathed it every bit as much as I always have.

I approached the check out however, totally unashamed and without an ounce of regret for the decision that resulted in my snotty shirt. I did not regret choosing to save my son. If presented as two possible options I would much rather have a snot-nosed shirt than a seriously injured son. I realized that being a father doesn’t mean you lose your sense of cleanliness, propriety, or healthy sanitation. Those are all important. I might even go as far as to say sanitation and propriety are hallmarks of civilization. But rather fatherhood means loving someone else more than even those important desires you have for yourself.

In fact Scripture calls us to a love even greater, indeed. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NIV). Scripture calls me to value and love my son even more than myself. While I would definitely say I’m not there yet, I can also say I’m closer today than I used to be in large part because God made me a father.

I love my son. I love being a father. One thing I’ve learned is that being a father does not mean you lose all sense of dignity. Instead, I think, being a father means learning that some things matter even more than dignity. Or in this case, someone who matters more. Namely, my son.

The Purpose of the Law

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. (1 Timothy 1.5 KJV)

I am in an ongoing discussion with my friends on the purpose of the law. Recently I began reading 1 Timothy and this verse screamed to me from off the page. In it, Paul explains the purpose of the law to his young pastor protégé, Timothy, to begin his letter.

Discussions with my friends can get complicated quickly, not to mention heated! So, what I love about this verse, is that Paul cuts through the complexity and offers us something easy to understand.

According to Paul, the purpose of the law, or “the end of the commandment” is love. The KJV renders that word as “charity.” Love is the purpose of the law. The purpose is a good conscience and faith.

In a conservative Hebrew sense, the law includes hundreds of commands. To consider their implications, hundreds more! This is where the discussion gets complicated. What was God’s purpose for instituting them? Morality? National purity? There are a myriad of reasons, to be sure. But, Paul writing to Timothy explains clearly one purpose for the law: love, a good conscience, and faith. He has a way of cutting through the complexity to give my small mind one thing it can wrap itself around.

The beauty of this verse is the insight offered by the modifiers that describe love, faith, and conscience. This love is “pure”, the conscience is “good”, and the faith is “unfeigned.” When love comes from a pure heart, it is genuine. It seeks the best for others for their own sake. When our conscience is good it is clean. It has integrity. It’s not hiding or harboring secrets, things it fears others will find out. When faith is unfeigned it’s not fake. It’s ingenuous. It’s not malicious or manipulative.

This text does not say that we become loving when we obey the commandments. Romans clears that issue. We know that no one is good and able to obey the commands (3.23). Further, it is not the law that makes us good. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” The law is the mirror God holds up to us, so we can see ourselves by His standard, marred, broken, and disobedient. But the better hope ushered in by the law, Jesus, does make us perfect through His blood. That is why we have hope.

1 Timothy 1.5 paints a portrait of faith that is genuine. It’s the real deal. It’s trustworthy—the “real McCoy” as my fifth grade teacher would say. When we reach the end of the commandment we love.

Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5.17) Jesus fulfilled the law, every commandment (Hebrews 4.15). What better portrait have we than Christ loving with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a faith unfeigned?

When we reach the end of the commandment we love. We participate in and with the One who is love. And in so doing, we become more like Christ.

Glorious Failure

Life is a long series of failures. Here's to failing gloriously!

Scott Eckstein

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