One of our favorite stores, as a family, is Hobby Lobby.
We go into Hobby Lobby to look at lots of different things: I enjoy the comic book wall art (because I’m a mature adult who still likes superheroes), the girls like looking at the toys, and Brooke likes pretty much everything else. Also, you can shop for Christmas trees in mid-May, which is always a much-needed burst of festivity during the summer months.
Going into Hobby Lobby, however, it is almost overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with the store’s layout. For example, if you’re looking for something in particular (let’s say, for example, Super Glue), they probably have it, but it might take you a while to find it. The good news is that they have lots of (usually) helpful employees who can help you find what you’re looking for; the bad news is that you’ll also have to find one of them first. I think they hide from me sometimes, but I can’t prove it.
In my experience, the one place in Hobby Lobby that you will always find help is in the framing department. No matter how empty the rest of the store might be, they always seem to have someone working in that department.
Why is there always at least one dedicated/stationary employee working in the framing department, of all places? I suppose there are several possible reasons:
– Hobby Lobby does custom framing, so someone is always back there, working on those projects
– – They don’t want anyone stealing those little frame corner samples (you know you want one)
– – They are going back there to hide from the customers who are looking for Super Glue
– – They are lost in their own store
Although any/all of these are possible, here is another theory: unless a person has some level of artistic sensibility (and even if they do), choosing a frame for a picture or a piece of art can be daunting and difficult. A well-chosen frame can make all the difference in the world, and it can even make a “bad” piece of art look good. Conversely, a poorly chosen frame can ruin an otherwise beautiful picture. In other words, most people need HELP with this!
There have been multiple times that Brooke (my lovely and crafty wife) has taken little postcards or small pieces of art into Hobby Lobby to be framed, and I thought to myself, “What a waste of a frame” (I might have said it out loud too. Whoops); that is, until I saw her vision come to life and realized that sometimes, the FRAME can make something a much greater work of art than the picture would have been by itself.
As Christians, everything that we think, say, and do (the “artwork” of our life, if you will) is important (I Cor. 10:31); but WHY we do these things and HOW we do them is equally important, if not more so.
In other words, how do we “frame” our thoughts, words, and actions? What are the reasons, motivations, and expectations of those actions? How do we see ourselves, and how do we present ourselves to others and God? Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at several “frames” that Christians often choose, along with what the Bible has to say about each of them.
Let’s start with one of the most popular “frames” on the market…
THE FRAME OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
First of all, let’s all admit that we all gravitate to this “frame” sometimes. It is human nature to try hard, compare, and celebrate our own success. But let’s see if this actually works as a framework for Christianity…
Let’s begin with a statement of truth: If self-righteousness were possible, we wouldn’t need Christ. Period.
Despite what the New Testament teaches on this subject, however, many Christians still choose to frame their lives with self-righteousness. We do this by choosing an approach to life that draws attention to the good things that we are doing for God, and we display those works proudly for others to see. Interestingly (and tellingly), we usually do everything in our power to hide the sin in our lives when this is our “frame,” which is completely unbiblical (Js. 5:16; I Jn. 1:8,10). In the life of a self-righteous person, sin is vague, permissible, and taken care of at the tail-end of a prayer.
We typically choose self-righteousness because we have also decided that this is how we will please God and “get into heaven.” If we were being honest, we have no interest in knowing God and having an authentic relationship with Him when this is our frame. We “use” Him for His “rules” (among other things), and we pretend that we will be able to follow those rules without His help, despite His clear teaching to the contrary (Mk. 10:18; Acts 15:10). We present our works to God as if He will somehow be impressed, forgetting that He has already labeled those “righteous deeds” as being “like a polluted garment [or “filthy rags”]” (Is. 64:6).
The “Rich Young Ruler” chose this flimsy “frame,” and he couldn’t have been further from pleasing God (Mt. 19:16ff).
Another characteristic of framing our lives with self-righteousness is that we tend to compare ourselves to others (but only those who are doing LESS than we are; never with those who are doing MORE), and we become quite judgmental in the process. We start “keeping score,” and we always come out ahead since we have abandoned Scripture and are now writing our own rules. This was Jesus’s problem with the Pharisees (Mt. 23).
The Apostle Paul also made it clear that our works are NOT to be the source of our hope, faith, or salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Don’t misunderstand, we are supposed to do good works (Eph. 2:10; Js. 2:17), but these works should not be boasted about, and they do not make us righteous; only God’s grace can do that (Rom. 5:19).
The “frame” of self-righteousness is a poor choice (and spiritually fatal), since the Bible clearly teaches that NONE of us are actually righteous as a result of our own works (Rom. 3:10).
If you and I have been framing our lives in this way, we should head back to the framing department and look at some other options. Remember, like Hobby Lobby, there is always someone there to help you pick the right frame!
Next week, we will take a look at the “Frame of Guilt.”