Sin. It is an ugly word for the filth that resides within us, waiting to crop up at unexpected moments. I think some of the best writing in the Bible in regards to sin is how the Apostle Paul captured it in Romans.
“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – I keep on doing” (Romans 7:13, 15).
Isn’t that sometimes exactly what it feels like? We have the best intentions, no thought of going down the wrong path…and all of a sudden we realize we are halfway down and we feel as though we are caught between a rock and a hard place with little intention of going back.
David, the King of Israel, get involved in a mess of sin. He coveted, stole, committed adultery and murder and then carried on with life as though nothing had happened. It was only when he was confronted and caught by the Prophet Nathan that he admitted his sin, acknowledged his guilt and pleaded for the forgiveness of God. Being forced to confront our sin usually leads us to examine our behaviour and recognize our wrongdoing. Sometimes it causes us to come to God and confess that what we have done is wrong. The need for confession as a spiritual discipline is based on the fact that we have sinned against God and we need His forgiveness. Christ’s death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin and we are no longer under judgement and condemnation. Once we are able to repent of our actions, God is happy to forgive… but we need to take the first step to get there.
Today…read Psalm 51 – David’s prayer of confession and repentance. Examine the sin in your own life and confess it before God.
I sometime wonder if we realize how we’ve secularized some of the things we say. For example, we may end a difficult conversation with the expression “Chin Up” or “I’m sure it will all work out” or “You’ll figure it out”. As Christian’s, it may be worthwhile to consider what we really mean when we say these things. In some ways, it is implying that the person is responsible for the outcome of a scenario in which they may have no control.
In challenging circumstances, a biblical blessing or benediction may be more appropriate. The Latin root of benediction means ‘to speak well’. Biblical benedictions are professions of faith that God is sovereign and in control. Benedictions such as “The Lord Bless You” or “The Peace of God Be Upon You” are expressions of grace. We do not bless ourselves, God blesses us. When we offer a benediction to another we are acting in God’s place, assuring them that God is for them.
Since we often close our conversations with parting words, we could consider using expressions or words that are more mindful of how God is at work. Somehow it seems a bit formal to leave someone by saying “The Lord Bless You”, but there could be other ways of leaving a conversation and being conscious of God at the same time. Instead of “I’m sure it will all work out”, we could say; “I’m sure that things will work out in God’s timing” or instead of “Have a great day”, we could say; “Enjoy the day that God has made”.
Today…think of some other parting words that you could use at the close of a conversation.
“He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Love and justice come together many times in scripture and Jesus life is full of these examples. As followers of Christ, we have received the grace and mercy of God but are also called to administer his justice and compassion to others. It is not enough to believe in Jesus (even Satan and the demons believe in Jesus!), we are to be the hands and feet of Christ.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah told the people that even if they had the correct form of worship and offered sacrifices to God; their offerings would not be accepted if they did not treat people with justice. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul stated that we are to owe no debt except the debt of love. Love and justice meet when we respond to the neighbour who needs us here and now. This is a fundamental spirituality for one who is a follower of Jesus.
In our daily efforts of follow Christ’s teachings, we need to be constantly vigilant that we do not fall into the trap of being “religious” without a heart that reflect the heart of God.
Today: Take some time in self-reflection to see if justice and compassion are a reality in your life. Ask yourself some probing questions: To what extent do I show justice and compassion to others? Am I concerned about people who are marginalized? How do I actually reveal this?