Tag Archives: sin

The Idol of Opinions 

“You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Have you ever been worried about what people think of you? Done something simply because you wanted somebody else to think well of you? How about doing something you know you shouldn’t have just to please another person?

Desiring others to think well of us is not a bad thing, but when we look to them to gauge our value, we’ve crossed the line.

Peter stopped eating with the gentiles when James and certain influential Jews were around. Afraid of what they would think, he acted like a racist. Paul sternly rebuked him.  (See Galatians 2:11-14)

Personally, I can relate with Peter. I’ve struggled with being concerned about what people think about me. Rather than loving selflessly, as Jesus commanded, I sometimes look for something in return from others. It’s like I “need” their approval.  This stems from a misplaced understanding of where my value comes from. I’m loved by the Creator of the universe with a love which surpasses knowledge. God’s love gives me my complete value.

But sometimes I lose sight of God’s love for me. Caught up in the swirl of life, I look to other relationships to give me what only He can. This is sin.  Using other’s to validate me is giving too much worth to their opinion. In essence I’m worshiping their opinion as an idol, making me an idolater.

Idolatry

The word Idol literally means “an image for worship.” A stark reality is that when I do anything to enhance another person’s opinion of me, I’m bowing down in worship to that person in my heart.

In quite spicy language, Paul puts our trying to please others this way:  “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ‭Galatians: ‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul’s words add gravity to this sin of idolatry. But, praise be to God, Jesus Christ died to set us free from all sin. God wants us free.  There’s tremendous power in the cross of Christ to bring death to every sin.

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13 ESV

Though I’ve known about my struggles with pleasing others for a long time, dealing with it as sin and bringing it to the cross of Christ for mortification has brought tremendous freedom and lightness to my heart. I’m becoming more and more secure in Father God’s love for me. This frees me to love other’s as Christ has loved me, without expecting or needing anything back in return.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you so much for revealing this sin to me. When my flesh wants to walk in the old ways of gaining value from the opinion of others, please show me quickly that I might bring this idolatry to the cross and walk in your Spirit. “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

I know you want to show me more and more so that I can walk in the full freedom You’ve designed for me.  You are impressing upon me that my completeness is in Christ Jesus alone. I love the lightness of heart that the confession of sin brings. Please continue Your work in me. I love You and thank You for loving me so much.

 

All Jacked Up

“We fear if people ever truly knew us, they would not love us, but the truth is if people really knew us, they could truly love us” Jon Acuff

One of our pastors likes to refer to all of us, including himself, as ‘all jacked up.’  I don’t embrace this truth very well, but it’s intensely accurate. During the times I haven’t messed up too badly, I feel pretty good about myself. But when an area of my life begins to stink, I tend to go into denial. It’s easier to slather on the cologne and avoid thinking about it than to come to terms with how far I’ve missed the mark.

The truth is I am all jacked up. And I bring my imperfections into every area of my life, including my family, my job, my friendships, my… It seems the longer I live the more I realize I’m not the man after God’s heart I hoped I was. I’m not alone in this. Toward the end of his live, Paul called himself the foremost of all sinners.[1]  But even among such great company, I struggle to fully embrace my sin.

The Lie of Lovability

Lately, God has revealed a virus running in the operating system of my heart: The more perfect I am, the more lovable I am. Though I know its a lie, the less perfect I realize I am, the more unlovable I feel. I read what Jesus says about the sinner who washed His feet with her tears, “her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:47b) This verse is like anti-virus software targeting the specific lie which has caused havoc in my life. In Christ, God lavishes his grace upon me. What should keep me from opening up all the crevices of my heart to allow His loving grace and mercy to have full access?

Cheer up

“Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” Jack Miller

Could it be that a fuller embrace of my sin will give me a deeper experience of His love?

God is eradicating this lie which causes me to shy away from a full embrace of my sin. His great love for me is washing away guilt and shame, showing me something I never expected.

Being brutally honest with who I really am, with all my imperfections and sin, in all areas,  has far reaching benefits for me and for others:

  • Greater sin, greater love -As with the sinful woman, the more I see my sin and embrace God’s forgiveness, the greater I understand His love
  • Eradicating Defensiveness – If I know I’m loved, no matter how much I’ve messed up, I can fully accept, without denial, when others tell me I have broccoli in my teeth
  • Requires dependence – As long as I think I’m doing okay, patterning my life after the historic Jesus I read about in the Bible, I’ll keep grinding it out in my own effort. However, when I see the essence of what Jesus is teaching us in the Sermon on the Mount, that I can’t be perfect and can’t live the Christian life without him, I’ll begin to yield to His abiding Spirit
  • Brings freedom – Jesus says “the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32b) When we give the Spirit full access to the crevices of our heart, we’ll experience the freedom to fully embrace our humanity with all its ugliness and fully rest in the love of Christ
  • Really Good News – Gospel means “good news” and when we truly understand that no sin is more powerful than the precious life blood of Jesus, this makes the gospel really good news.
  • My Grace Story Brings Hope to Others  When we share our junk and related victories, others can identify and hope is ignites in them. “If God can do that in his life and with his family, as jacked up as he is, He can surely help me.”

Challenge:  

  • Think of the imperfect areas of your life. This shouldn’t be too hard. As humans, our sin is kneaded into all aspects.
  • Of these areas, pick one that’s particularly hard to accept. This is probably an area you find some worth in. Just one for now. You can repeat the process if needed.
  • Spend some being brutally honest with the Lord about your sin in this area. Perhaps you’ve been in denial about the extent. Then, with no hesitation, receive the cleansing power of the shed blood of Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
  • Perhaps there’s a person in your life you need to talk to. Do it. Bring it all into the light of his healing grace.
  • Rinse and repeat the challenge for other areas. (This reference doesn’t work for me. I haven’t had enough hair to wash in years) (8^>

 Prayer: Most gracious, heavenly Father. I’m so sorry I hold my junk at arm’s length, not fully embracing my sin. Thank you for exposing the lie that tells me I’m unlovable when I’m not perfect. What a hideous message. I’m sorry for how my lack of brutal honesty with myself, has affected my freedom and perhaps even the freedom of others. Please keep me in absolute truth, exposing more and more of my junk, that you might use me to trumpet your lavishing love and unending grace to others.

“He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.Ephesians 1:5-8b 

[1] I Timothy 1:15