I had been waiting for the knock on the door of my small office, especially after hearing the elevator open less than 10 feet away. The young married couple came in, we greeted each other in the culturally appropriate fashion, and they took a seat in the only two chairs available for guests.
After some small talk about family, church, work, and studies, we got to the purpose of their visit. They had been married long enough for the novelty to have subsided, and for them to find out things about the other that they had not expected. I asked questions; they felt comfortable enough to freely paint the picture, as well to ask for my counsel. They were looking for help.
I opened one of my desk drawers, pulled out several medicine sized bottles, and told them I had a solution for them. For a month, they should each take one of the small tablets from each bottle, and then return to see me. They were surprised that this was my recommendation, doubly so when they looked at the labels on the bottles – Patience, Grace, Love, and Joy.
As you are reading this, you may be asking, “What kind of approach is this for problems in interpersonal relationship? He really didn’t do that, did he?” You can relax. The fact is that what I have described is a fictional approach, one that neither you nor I would practice. . . . or would we???
Unfortunately, this is exactly what we do when we mentally separate the moral virtues of God from God Himself. We may say things like, “I sensed God’s grace in such and such situation”. . . . “God’s love invaded my soul as I saw those suffering children”. . . . “God gave me an extra dose of His patience when my co-worker insulted me”. . . . “The joy of God was on the faces of those who had just understood who Jesus truly is.”
BUT, the four virtues just mentioned have no existence independently from God. We experience these virtues as we experience God Himself. We experience God as we hunger and thirst after Him. God offers to live Himself in us and manifest Himself through us. He doesn’t give us a small pill of His love (or other virtue) as if it could be separated from Him, telling us to come back to his office in thirty days so He can fine tune the dosage.
God doesn’t have a cabinet of spiritual medicine. He is the medicine, personalized!!