This story started on Friday. If you missed that, you’ll be lost today. So here’s a quick link to pop back and catch yourself up!
As I placed the nozzle back in the pump, I walked around the back of the car and my newest decal loomed large … a reminder of who’s I am and whom I’ve just disgraced …
† = ♥
I hung my head in shame and slid back into my car.
In my head I replayed what I said to the station manager. Was that anyway to treat another human being? What did that outburst say about me as a Christ follower? I shook my head in disgust. Some witness! Paul can survive beatings and floggings and stonings and I can’t persevere through an argument without coming unglued. I still have so much to learn!
By the time I was ready for bed that evening the weight of the sin-millstone around my neck was palpable. The incident and the implications of the fallout weighed heavy on my mind for the rest of the day and I knew I couldn’t go one more minute before I had to get down on my knees that night and cry, begging forgiveness from my Lord and Savior. I went to bed with a beautiful peace on my heart, but still mortified by the way I had acted that day.
The ever-present oily pit of black goo roiled in my soul. I imagine it to be a pool of sin sloshing back and forth in my soul. Sometimes it lays dormant for a while, other times it bubbles up and leaks out. Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m in a constant state of consternation – far from it. I fully accept the grace God affords me after I repent and ask forgiveness for my sin. My heart and spirit are somehow lighter knowing He forgets my sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV). It’s just that as I come to love the Lord more and more I am ever so much more saddened when I sin. I know I hurt His heart. I know I disappoint Him. All sin is an act against God. I love how Jerry Bridges puts it in his book Respectable Sins:
“Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls.”
Even though we are believers, we have a tendency to evaluate our behavior by how it relates to the society in which we live. Since as Christians, we’re usually operating at a higher moral standard than those around us, it’s easier to get caught up in feeling good about ourselves and how we behave – even though we are sinning all along. We must watch out for that trap. Can’t you just see Satan grinning with joy?
Unbelievably, I hadn’t even read Day 14 when the incident at the gas station occurred. As I opened up the bible study the following day I couldn’t help but see my sin all over its pages. Convicted over and over again (but not condemned because I’d already received forgiveness from God). Unfortunately, there were other recent incidents where I had opened my mouth inappropriately and these occurrences tugged at my heart. I hadn’t confessed those to the Lord yet. I’d pushed them aside as acceptable sins. The bottom line – would I ever learn to keep my big yap shut?
Kay asks, “If I want to live this life (a life sold out for Jesus), am I willing to pay the price?”
Am I willing to really come to grips with my inability to keep my mouth closed when it isn’t necessary to speak? Am I able to look with such love toward others that a critical thought never enters my mind again? It’s certainly become a prayer of mine.
Think this week about your cross. Or at least one of them – because I know I have many myself! What can you, once and for all, give up to Christ by next weekend? What can you cut out of yourself like fisherman gutting a newly caught snapper – all for the sake of Jesus? I don’t think we have time to waste, my friends. Jesus may arrive at any time and I want to see you on that narrow path with me!