I almost titled this post, To know and not to do means not really to know because I say all the right Christian words but I don’t always do what I know to do. I truly want to follow in His footsteps and live to bring glory to His name, but do I? Do I choose to live low and selflessly put others first, am I walking the narrow road?
I’ve noticed some things lately, trends maybe, leading me to conclude this:
We are careless.
It may not be intentional but for many of us our standards reflect the world and not the Word.
Let me say at the outset, the first place I see this is in my own heart. I’m not immune to the ways of the enemy even though I strive to live a life others can point to and follow. But I’m far from perfect.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve come up with a list of ten ways we’re careless with our Christianity.
1–Worry. I struggle with worry. A lot. I worry about the future, the present, my family, our business, if our house will ever sell, etc.. If you can name it, I can worry about it. But the truth is, worry is infidelity. Worry says to God, you don’t have my back, you’re not intimately involved in every detail of my life, you don’t care as much as I do. In fact, worry is the polar opposite of trust.
2–Self-pity. When I begin to wallow my husband is faithful to point out self-pity is my ‘favorite bad feeling’. I don’t like it at all when he reminds me but he is completely right. Self-pity puts what I want but don’t have on the throne. Here’s what I know that I know about God: He’ll strip us before He clothes us. He’ll take us to the low place before He exalts us. He’ll bankrupt us before He blesses us. I can whine or let Him crush my grapes into wine.
3–Offense. Offense is a slick, demonic trap and trust me in this: if you can be offended you will be offended. Eliminating offense is a tough one for me as I’ve been challenged in it several times this year. I’ve had legitimate reasons to be deeply offended. But God doesn’t let me linger there for long. Oh, we Christians are super good at forgiving, seventy times seven and all that, because the church teaches us well. What they don’t teach is the trap of offense. We can forgive but we do not forget and often hold the sin against our offender for years. We see them at the grocery store and quickly go down a different aisle. We see them at church and sit all the way over on the other side to avoid them. We forgive but we want nothing to do with them because of how they hurt us. We refuse to let them go.
We hold the hurt deep and bitterness grows and poisons our well of living water, polluting everything it touches.
Offense moves quick as lightning into judgment. The truth is, whatever judgement I use against you will come back to me. The law of sowing & reaping is absolute, just like gravity, and it works whether I believe in it or not. There’s only one way to remove the poison of offense and that’s through repentance.
When I acknowledged I’d fallen into the trap of offense I asked the Lord to show me every person in my life against whom I held offense. There were lots. You don’t want to know. But I repented and spoke blessing and forgiveness over each one. It was hard and it took time but it was freeing. Nowhere in scripture are we allowed to take revenge. Judgement is never justified and if I sow judgement I will reap it in my own life. Bitter roots grow bitter fruit and defile many. Offense is sin and a thief and it will steal your peace. Holding onto offense will hold you back. Elsa from Frozen has the best advice for the trap of offense: Let it go!
4–Money and Position. How we handle our money is the touchstone of our character. It grieves me so when I hear of yet another Christian business owner who hasn’t done the right thing financially. I’m convinced, and I know this from experience, you don’t really know someone until money or position enters the picture. Just watch a close family break apart when a death occurs and there’s stuff to divide, it can get ugly quick. Or watch someone fight their way to the top doing whatever they can to get there, even if it involves slander or gossip, lies or betrayal. Trust me, it’s painful to be on the receiving end of that. If you are may I remind you of number three above.
5–Living like the world. I thought we were supposed to be different? Aren’t we supposed to look and sound different, act differently from the world? The bible is black and white, there are no shades of gray! Are we willing to lose our ‘cool’ status to maintain our witness? To say no to sex and profanity riddled movies or drinking in public if it might cause a brother to stumble? What about having sex before marriage? Are we willing to be identified with Christ in every area of life?
I can deny Him with my behavior just as easily as with my words.
6–Lack of integrity. We aren’t the same people on Monday we tell our pastor we are on Sunday. We say we’re going to do something and then don’t do it. Our word isn’t our bond and we can’t be trusted to follow through. We break commitments, we ignore vows yet we wonder why our circumstances don’t change.
7–Living like we’re disqualified. Are you letting the sins of your past determine your future? Do you believe the truth of what God says about you? We tell God He can’t use us because of past mistakes and we disqualify ourselves. We remind Him of all we’ve done, forgetting what He did for us. He died to give us newness of life, a future and a hope. Know this: you’re not disqualified, you’re forgiven.
8–Not letting Jesus pick. We convince ourselves we’re the masters of our fate. We hold tightly to our right to be right and our right to the life we desire. What if God has a different plan, one you can’t even imagine? You may want a family but what if instead He wants to give you a nation? What if He wants your hands and feet to serve the poor in obscurity? What if He says it’s enough for now to raise your children well and leave career aspirations behind? What if you’re a raging introvert but He calls you to public life? Does He get to pick? Does the one who gives you your breath get to decide your path? Will you hold tightly onto what you think you want or will you open your fists and hold lightly the desires of your heart ?
9–Fear. Fear is a lying spirit and we have to do the opposite of what it’s whispering to our minds. Fear will stop your dream in its tracks and paralyze your future. The best advice I can give you is the same three words I gave my daughter when she was growing up: Do It Afraid. But do it. Don’t let the devil steal your dreams.
10–idolatry. The biggest idol I see today? Self. That includes my self, I’m hardly immune. I want my ways, my worship, my will, my time, my treasure–whatever I think will satisfy more than God. We have lots of idols, food, sex, money, those are obvious. What about children or family members? If we put them ahead of our relationship with Christ He says in Matthew 10:37 that we are not worthy of Him. We idolize our time and our work, our money and our recreation, our platforms and our priorities. The root of this is sin because we’re really saying “God, you aren’t enough.”