Monday, October 08, 2007

holiness: habit and attitude

It’s a rare occasion (I suppose unfortunately) when work, church, discipleship, school, and outside reading all come together in the form of common theme. I call it the perfect storm. I suppose it would be most helpful if I began with a story about something that happened to me at work as a sort of catalyst.

Mr. Jones rolled up onto the valet ramp to check into the hotel. As a very large man, he was unable to walk on his own, thus requiring the assistance of a wheel chair. He is also one of those people who have become very comfortable with asking for help when he needs it, which was quite often as many things about coming to a hotel were difficult for him (elevators, etc). After about fifteen minutes, and with the help of myself and his two friends, we were able to get his luggage onto a bell cart and Mr. Jones into a wheel chair. We proceeded into the lobby to get him checked in. I was then instructed that I would have to assist him up to the room first and then come back down and take up his luggage, an unusual two step process. When I got to the room I had to adjust some of the furniture so that he could maneuver his wheel chair. At one point he asked if I might untie his shoes. When I left he took about five minutes to commend to hotel regarding its handicap accessibility. He wanted a manager to call up to his room so that he could personally say how happy he was. All of this took about a half hour.

Let me shift gears. I seem to always come back to G. Simon Harak’s Virtuous Passions. Harak’s argument is that we are morally responsibility for our passions (how we feel; our affections; our desires). He says that many often neglect to consider that an aspect of virtue ethics is the formation of our desires. In as much as we are to act rightly, we are to desire rightly.

Back to my story, and you might intuit where I am going with all this. As far as my actions go, I did everything Mr. Jones asked. Thus, I acted rightly in assisting him. However, as far as my passions, my desires went, I did all of his requests with the wrong attitude. I didn’t want to help him and, in fact, became quite frustrated with the whole scenario. Of course, realizing this about myself, I then became frustrated with how I was feeling; angry that I would ever not want to help someone who needed it, particularly one such as Mr. Jones. To top the whole situation off, he tipped me two dollars. So, now I am frustrated about receiving such a small tip, to which, of course, I am then more frustrated with myself about feeling that way about a tip. Do you see where I am going with this?

All of this happened the day before our pastor preached a sermon on entire sanctification, which has everything to do with habit and attitude. Entire Sanctification or Christian perfection, is about having our habits and attitudes rightly ordered toward our good and true end in God (Revelation 4). Also interesting was that in our discipleship hour in Church we talked about James 4. Read it for yourself.

In the end, I was reminded through Mr. Jones that holiness has everything to do with habit and attitude; a good reminder that I am indeed a long way off but steadily moving toward to a good and true end in God.

No comments: