I just came back from the North Carolina missions conference and to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. By far the highlight of the event for me was Gary Chapman’s message yesterday morning on the marks of a loving person and his afternoon session on the 5 love languages. If you have never read the 5 love languages, you need to make it your next priority.
I came across this post last week and it really resonated with me because it exposed a sinful behavior that I didn’t realize was all that damaging. But sin, no matter the size, is always damaging.
Erik Raymond is a Church planter/pastor in Omaha, Nebraska and he wrote an article titled “Backing Up the Dump Truck of Merit”. Here is an excerpt:
Here’s an example:
Wife: “I don’t feel like we have been spending enough quality time together recently. I feel like you are distant and distracted.”
Husband: “What do you mean? I’ve been spending a lot of time with you. I don’t see how you can say that.”
Wife: “Well, it’s how I feel. It seems like we are not connecting.”
Husband: (now becoming irratated) “I don’t know how you could say that. What did we do on Monday? I didn’t watch the game but I drove the kids to their appointment. Tuesday night? I was here the whole time. How about Wednesday? We went out to eat and then to church. Now it’s Thursday and you have already given me a list of things to do. I don’t think you are being reasonable.”
The husband has done the classic move. His wife’s observations and feelings are dismissed with a quick disagreement. Then when she persists, he calls for the merit.
Do you see this? Before even beginning to understand what his wife is talking about he starts whistling for the dump-truck of personal merit to be backed up and dumped into the middle of the conversation.
It is as if he is saying, “Ok, you have an issue with me? Well, let me remind you who and what you are dealing with. Before I can get to me and any potential issues, I have something for you.”
He then begins to dump the merit in between them. “Hear my excuses. Look at what I’ve done. Do you realize how I’ve sacrificed? I should be coming to you with the issues!”
… This is obviously not restricted to only a husband and wife. It happens in personal friendships as well. It is one of the favorite plays to call for the self-righteous heart. We think we can out-last, out-will, and out-merit our accusers. Therefore, we back up the dump-truck of merit into the conversations and bid them to deal with it.
So why is this so damaging? I am reminded of Isaiah 64:6 which states that all of our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.
This attitude betrays the very nature of Christ that we are supposed to be modeling before others.
Do we really love others? If so we would not be so concerned with what “we” have done for others but we would be giving of ourselves for others. Isn’t that what Christ did for us on the cross?