Our spirituality is our responsibility–to a point. It’s like getting our hair cut. We sit in the chair, but the LORD “cuts our hair.”
1 My child, IF you accept my words…IF you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding…IF you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, THEN you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (1-5)
The key to this passage is the CHOICE that is given by the Father and honored by Him. He allows the wicked to “walk in dark ways” (v13) and the adulterous woman to “ignore the covenant she made before God” (v17). Are we really trying to live righteously, relying on the Spirit to lead us and to strengthen us even as He coaches us? God “equips us with everything good for doing His will,” but are we letting Him “work in us what is pleasing to Him?” (Hebrews 13:21). Let’s take an inventory:
- Do we habitually sin and not care?
- Is there any Holy Spirit-conviction in our lives?
- Do we feel guilty when we do wrong or only when we get caught?
Last Sunday, I told of my recommitment. Johnny Bisagno took nearly 30 minutes to graphically describe a beating and crucifixion Roman-style. Jesus endured them both because of my sin. Sin separates us from the Father by taking us the wrong way–right off a cliff. It destroys us! THAT’S why God hates sin so much. Jesus took the ugly punishment for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. Why, then, do we treat His commands with such disdain? Why does sin not bother us? With Him living inside us, shouldn’t we hear or sense His crying out before we sin, during our sin, and after our sin?
Here’s a good litmus test: If you ever cop an attitude, I promise you that it’s because of your rebellious nature. We get in the flesh. “Attitude” is our version of playing God. In fact, we may even use the words, “If I were in charge…if that was my child…If I were God…” We’ve all been there; we’ve all done that; we all have the T-shirt.
James tells us what to do in 4:4-10. Let’s read it:
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world [to live like the people of the world do] becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Maybe we ought to try this approach one Sunday: We come in and fall on our faces before God; we begin by submitting ourselves to Him. We resist the devil by resisting the urge to get up before we have finished. We ask for the Spirit to wash us, to purify us, and to make us single-minded. We grieve our sin, mourn over lost opportunities, and wail for sinners who refuse to repent. We see this world for what it is: sick, sin-saturated, and in control of the devil. We then humble ourselves before the Lord and wait for Him to lift us up. What would He raise us up to do?
The promise for us is success in giving the Spirit opportunity to convict of sin in someone’s life. That person may not accept it, but we must be faithful. We never know with whom He’s dealing nor His timing. Ours is to obey. We can only do that when we can clearly hear His voice. We can only do THAT when we are cleared of all sin–that which stands between us and the Father.
Did you pass the test? Then pass this one: Take extra time today to confess sin to the Father (He already knows). Give it up to Him and allow Him to replace it with His gifts of love, joy, peace, and whatever else is needed for the next step. You’ll never regret it.
Abba, I’ve reached a point where our complacency needs overhauling. May we spend as much time praying as we do anything else today. May we agonize over lost friends and relatives, neighbors and enemies (political and otherwise). May we be willing to give up anything and everything for the opportunity to be witnesses for You–even our rights as Americans, our safety, and even our lives if You deem it necessary. Ignite us, Father. Fan us into flame. Make us burn for You in a dark world. Amen.