In today's Bible reading, I read two verses together that I've never connected before. One is so often quoted separately that I often don't analyze it in its context. Here are the two verses:
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,"
I know this has been taught, that not attending worship times or Bible studies with our fellow Christians is a willful act of disobedience, but there it is. It is in black and white. Missing services for no reason is sin. Let's keep that in mind this weekend when so many peoples minds won't be on worshiping our Lord and Savior. Our attitude should be one willing to worship Him when and how He demands.
When momma loses it, it ain't pretty. I find myself too often admitting fault in this area. I could blame it on my Irish heritage, or being tired with baby #4 on the way, but the truth is that it is sin and there is no other way around it. As I get older, I'm learning to control the volcanic eruptions, and they may be fewer and farther between, but they still occur more often than I want them to.
What is a momma to do when she has sinned? I pull my children aside, hug them, tell them I love them and say I'm sorry. They hear me pray for forgiveness and to do better. It is the thing I never remember having happened in my home as a child, but I think it is necessary. They need to see our reaction to sin and our diligence to try to do better. I will keep picking myself up, taking a deep breath, do what I know I should and move on.
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
I think this verse describes where I was about 3 years ago. I believe one of the deceits of sin is that you believe you cannot change. You are what you are and you cannot stop being who you are. But that is not true. As a Christian I have put to death the former self:
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:22-32)
I can stop and, Lord willing, I will stop.
I find that many times when I explode, it is due to selfishness, laziness in parenting or house upkeep. It is my fault, not the fault of those around me. This has helped me to do better. Am I perfect? Not at all, but I will keep striving to do better and I pray that God's grace will help me when I can't.
I have to take a bit of a sidetrack today because of something that has been on my mind a great deal lately. I have to admit up front that I don’t have the answer, but I know it is important to come to an answer I can live with. I know the answer is in the Bible, but it is not as simple as just one verse that I can go to and say, "There it is". I have often told people, young people especially, that you have to draw your lines before you get there or you will cross them without realizing it. If you don’t want to get drunk or become an alcoholic you have to decide not to drink before you are at a party where alcohol is offered and there is pressure to have some. There has to be a decision made about how far one is going to go sexually before marriage before you wind up parked in a car somewhere with hormones raging or there will be sins committed and painful regret. With that last example we see that there are many different standards ranging from not kissing before the wedding day to freely offering the body to anyone that peaks any interest. As Christians we teach our children to stay closer to the first, but even Christians don’t all agree about what is acceptable and how far is too far.
And that is where my struggle lies today, not with the sexual question (my wife and I have already decided what to teach our children and begun to do so), but with the question of how far do you go. Where do you draw the line? Let me ask you, where do you draw the line between what is right and wrong and another person’s property or freedom. For example: If you believe abortion is wrong, how far do you go to stop it?
1) Would you vote for a candidate that supports it?
2) Would you vote for a law to ban it and make it illegal?
3) Would you vote for that law if it made abortion equal to murder and allowed the death penalty for those who performed or received an abortion?
4) Would you speak out to others about it?
5) Would you go to a protest at an abortion clinic?
6) Would you try to convince a pregnant woman to choose life?
7) Would you forcibly stop your own child from getting an abortion? What about your son's girlfriend?
8) Would you forcibly stop someone else’s child from getting an abortion?
9) Would you damage the clinic facility? Harass or harm the workers? Kill?
Some people are willing to do and have done all of those things. In our country’s past some in the temperance movement went into bars and liquor stores and destroyed the bottles of alcohol while others helped drunks get sober. Some in the abolitionist movement began and continued the underground railroad to help slaves escape while others bought their reedom, ultimately, bloodshed settled that issue as well as some others in war. How far would you go? At what point would you say someone else went too far? What would you find it acceptable for others to do, but not something you would do?
In the Bible we have several examples and it can be difficult to sort through them to find where we should draw our battle lines. King Josiah with his army went throughout all the land destroying the idols and even into the area of what had been the northern kingdom. Of course he was the king and had the authority as well as the prophecy on his side (1 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 34). Gideon destroyed the altar to Baal even though it was not really his to destroy, but God told him to do it (Judges 6:25-30). There were many others though who did not do things so aggressively. One of Ahab’s own servants hid 50 prophets and fed them from the king’s food, but never made a big scene like Elijah did in the challenge on Carmel (1 Kings 18). Many of the prophets never physically destroyed any idols. Jesus went into the temple and threw the moneychangers out, but He was God in the flesh (Matthew 21:12-13). Paul certainly did not tear down the idols in Athens, but he was a faithful servant of God. So, what is cowardly, bravery, or foolhardiness. How far will you go? If you don’t decide beforehand, you may go too far or perhaps in standing for the right you may not go far enough.