Forgetful

Us humans are a forgetful bunch, especially when we think forgetting comes to our advantage. My example this time? When Jesus came upon the woman caught in adultery, and He drew a line in the sand. He told the crowd that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone.

This left all of the people there without much to say. They couldn’t argue with him and they had no good defense in light of their sinfulness. So they dropped their stones. How could you do anything else? I couldn’t stand there next to Jesus, hear His words about “he who is without sin, cast the first stone,” and then hurl a stone.

But did dropping their stones change the fact that the woman had sinned? No. And while Jesus didn’t condone a bunch of sinners stoning a fellow sinner, He didn’t shy away from the fact that her sin was still sin. In fact, the part we like to forget or leave out, is where He approached her and said, “Go forth, and sin no more.” Wait, what? He didn’t make an excuse for her sin. He didn’t tell her to live in her sin and enjoy it. He didn’t empathize that “oh I know, sin is fun darling. That’s okay. Just you know, don’t get caught next time.” He told her, without pomp or fanfare, to go and sin no more.

I think we can all learn from this story. First, we must drop our weapons. We are all sinners. We are all guilty. But Jesus paid for our sin. (Thank God.) Stoning another sinner, literally or figuratively will not get anyone, anywhere. Second, we must call sin, sin. And when our sin is called sin, we must not ignore, defend, or make excuses for it. Jesus works in our hearts and calls sin what it is, and tugs us toward doing better. Are we going to ignore him?

Time and place is relevant, people. If we are going to speak life to those around us, we have to consider time & place. And the relationship. I cannot walk up to someone randomly and say, “I know what your sin is.” I cannot instruct them to change or grow. I cannot forge a half-hearted friendship just to be in a better position to point their sins out. First, I must be aware of and addressing my own sin. And confessing it. Second, I have to be in the trusted circle of friends (as a friend, to be a friend, with no other motive other than to serve and love) before I can ever help someone else deal with or face their sin. Third, I must pray diligently for that person long before I approach them.

In fact, by the time I’ve focused on my own sin and taken it to the throne and prepared myself to avoid future temptation in that area, and built a deep relationship with said person, and gone to God on their behalf, I may find that there is no fourth step. No opportunity to point out their shortcomings. I may find that Jesus has already done that part, because it’s His part to do. Remember the woman? It wasn’t one of her fellow sinners that spurred her on to do better. It was Jesus. He defended her, just as He does you and I before Our Father, and He encouraged her to do better.

So let’s let Jesus do His work in our own hearts and the hearts around us, and let us be faithful to pray, to build relationships, to open ourselves up, to flush out the sin we struggle with, to admit to our temptations, and to move into a deeper relationship first with our Lord and Savior, and secondly with the people He put around us to love and to love on.

Go-and-sin-no-more

When the Law of the Land Changes

I’ve thought and thought about this post since I first read about Kim Davis denying marriage licenses for same sex marriages. I don’t believe we should ever spew or spread hatred for any person, and I didn’t want to do so with what I have to say. But I feel compelled to write about my sister in Christ, and her choice to stand up for what is right.

God doesn’t change. Man changes, but God is constant.

I know of another time that man changed the laws of the land, but God did not change. And a man who loved and worshiped God broke the new law of the land to continue to honor God.

Read all about it in Daniel 6.

See, Daniel loved God, and he worked really hard, and his integrity and hard work were noticed. The king noticed and highly regarded Daniel. Yet, the men that worked alongside Daniel grew bitter about his favored position and the standard he set with his hard work and integrity. These men went before the king and stroked his ego and convinced him to change the law of the land – making prayer to anyone other than the king himself an illegal act. Anyone caught praying to someone other than the king was to be put to death.

Daniel didn’t go looking for trouble. He didn’t go to the satraps front yard and throw stones at their front door and then pray loudly in their front yard to make a scene. He didn’t leave the land or go find a new job. He didn’t leave the king’s service. The satraps caught him in prayer to God, however. Immediately they told the king. Now, I have to admit, I don’t think the king ever considered that Daniel would be caught in this trap, as he resisted throwing Daniel in the lions’ den, but in the end, the new law prevailed, and the king had him tossed in.

Our faithful God, who never changes, spared Daniel’s life. The law was reversed, the satraps faced the lions’ den, and God’s servant resumed his duty and was glorified through the story.

I can’t stop thinking about this story and how it relates to Kim Davis. She met Christ and her life was transformed. Our God is graceful and sent Jesus to redeem and restore.

Kim didn’t throw a hate party, write hate letters, or spew nasty condemnations. She didn’t claim to have been perfect, or infallible. She did, however, recognize sin and she chose God over signing her name to condone someone else’s sin. The law of the land changed, but our God is still the same.

I am thankful that Kim took a stand against sin, and I’m sorry she spent time in jail for it. I pray that as we face more battles where we have to stand against sin, that God would raise up the Daniels, Shadrachs, Meshachs, Abednegos, Pauls, Peters, and Johns of this generation. I pray that we would keep hate far from our lips, keep our eyes on the prize, and adhere to the truth. I pray that we would abide in Christ and remember that He set a high standard for how we should live. The path is narrow, and those who enter the gate will be few.

Temptation: The Hidden Opportunity

This post was inspired by my small group some time ago. I wrote it, but let it sit here. Seems like it’s still relevant and now is the time to post it. Enjoy!

Too often, I think we look at temptation as the sin itself. I wonder why we do this. Maybe it happens because we feel weak and powerless to stop it? We can’t control when it happens to us? It is catered to us so perfectly, we don’t feel strong enough to resist?

Yet, temptation is not the same thing as sin.

By Definition:

Temptation:

–noun

1. the act of tempting; enticement or allurement.

2. something that tempts, entices, or allures.

3. the fact or state of being tempted, especially to evil.

Tempt:

–verb (used with object)

1. to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.

2. to attract, appeal strongly to, or invite: The offer tempts me.

3. to render strongly disposed to do something: The book tempted me to read more on the subject.

4. to put (someone) to the test in a venturesome way; provoke: to tempt one’s fate.

5. Obsolete. to try or test.

Sin:

 

–noun

1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.

2. any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.

 

So, by my understanding, temptation is the desire to do something, the appeal to do something, and we should avoid it when the desire does not line up with the Word of God.

Sin is the action of wrong-doing.

Therefore, temptation is an opportunity that should have two arrows on either side of it. Showing the opposite directions of the given opportunity.

Take the opportunity! But do so with caution, the opportunity you want to be taking is to deny Satan, walk away from temptation, and therefore to begin to look more like Christ.

This is, by no means, a challenge to readily expose ourselves to temptation. We can’t hide from it, though. So, why not be ready? Why not etch the truth on our hearts, follow Jesus’ perfect example, and face the opportunity without fear? Temptation is not a curse. It is an opportunity to grow. It is an opportunity to choose to obey our Heavenly Father, the God who loves us, created us, and watches over us.

What is your approach to temptation? Do you recognize temptation when it appears, or does the recognition come after it has passed?