This semester I have been involved in a “book club” of sorts with a group of women here in La Paz. We have been reading and pondering over Jerry Bridges’ book titled “Respectable Sins.” The premise of this book is that there are a lot of sins that the church has wrongfully tolerated. No, more than tolerated; accepted, ignored, and even in some cases propagated. As you can imagine, each chapter brings with it a new wave of conviction. While I am not finished reading the book yet, I have definitely discovered some “respectable” areas in my own life.
One is the sin of ungodliness – not that I am a particularly wicked person, the way we often view the term “ungodly,” but that I simply do not live every moment of my life with a profound, dependent, recognition of God’s presence and will. Without a constant acknowledgement of God in my life, I am neglecting the One who loves me most, and that is heartbreaking. I also leave myself more vulnerable to other sinful patterns. Ungodliness, like pride, is the root of lots of creeping “respectable” sins.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Another is the sin of anxiety and worry. While yes, it is somewhat natural to worry about certain uncomfortable or scary situations in our lives, ultimately living in an anxious state is a symptom of a big problem: lack of trust in God. How often I find myself wracked with worry over the littlest of things…Will I make my flight? Will my students be engaged in my lesson today? Did I upset this or that person with a comment I made? Should we go out to eat tonight or cook? Or sometimes I worry about larger issues… When should we move back to the states? Am I really cut out for this job? All of these things, big and small, are evidences that I rely on my own control rather than God’s. I worry because I don’t trust Him with the outcome. I am more concerned with my agenda and plans than with His. Instead of doing the godly thing, praying and casting my cares upon the One who cares for me, I am doing the ungodly thing of caring about my own will and depending on my own strength to make it happen.
1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
The most recent chapter I read addressed the sin of selfishness. As human beings, we all are self-centered, naturally worrying about our own interests, time, money, and opinions more than the needs of others. As Christians, however, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means that we need to strive to make the interests, time, money, and opinions of others just as important to us as our own. This is no easy task, but as we grow understand God’s great love and unselfish sacrifice for us, we can better transfer that love and unselfishness into our relationships with others. For me, I find that my selfishness comes out more with my own family and closest friends. I expect Andrew to ask me about my day and listen as I recap everything that happened at school, but forget to ask about his. I expect my friends from home to Skype me and call me, but stubbornly don’t text them first. We are all selfish, but this is no way to live and love! We have to fight that temptation to put our interests above those of others.
Philippians 2:3-5 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
Now, if while reading this blog post your feeling as convicted as I was reading the book, remember: the wonderful thing about all of these sins, respectable or not, is that they are forgiven. As Christians, we have been freed from the penalty of sin in our lives by the blood of Jesus! Hallelujah! Still, we must remember that we were also freed from the power of sin in our lives now. What better way to show our gratitude to God for our salvation from sin’s penalty than to claim that victory over sin in our lives and live for Him? The Holy Spirit enables us to put the sins in our lives to death, even the ones that are socially acceptable.
Romans 8:1-2 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 6:15-18 – “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
I don’t want to be “respectable.” I want to keep growing, keep challenging, keep convicting, and keep transforming until I am more like Christ. I still have a long way to go! Thank God He will never leave nor forsake me as I struggle through, and that promise applies to you, too!