When Reading the Bible Makes You Unhappy

A few nights ago, just before walking up the stairs to bed, I received a text. A friend had moved and was in desperate need of help cleaning her old rental. If I could help, would I please call in the morning.

I did not want to clean. I could help, but I did not want to give up my day.

But I had been doing a really disciplined study of the book of James for several days, walking through it over and over again in preparation for the sermon series that would begin in one week.

James stood in the kitchen, where I was scowling at the text, and tapped his foot at me, saying, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17  NIV) Stink face.

I love this friend but really despise cleaning.

But I had plenty of time and not a single good reason for not helping out. I knew this was the good I should do, but an incredible selfishness rose up from within me, like the Kraken rising from the depths of the sea to destroy all goodness on board my ship. (It was that bad.)

I actually had this wicked, wicked thought, I wish I had never read the book of James!  Of course, I sucked it back in really fast, but it was there for a second. Man, every once in a while you just hit a Bible verse that stares you down. And when the Spirit says obey or else, well it’s hard to reason your way out of that. The simple commands are the worst–the absolute worst.

So I let out a crabby sigh–the kind teenagers make who really do not want to unload the dishwasher, like you’re killing them because you asked this horrendous task of them–and I texted back that I would be there after lunch. The next day I spent two hours with a bag full of rags, a bottle of Lime Away, and a bowl full of Pinesol, cleaning.

Was that so bad? I asked myself.

No, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was extremely rewarding to get out of my own story and help make someone else’s easier. I was very glad I went.

I guess I’m just saying –be aware of reading the Bible. Seriously. It’s not a leisure activity.