|Volume 24 Number 2 February 2022
“Did I not just get done telling you…” If I have said that or something similar to it once, I have said it a thousand times. It is always amazing to me that despite our best warnings against certain behaviors and the consequences that will follow, some folks ignore the clear statement of facts, especially children who simply test the boundaries. They throw caution to the wind and do exactly what you told them not to do.
To make matters worse, when you confront folks about such behaviors, often one of the first things out of their mouths is, “Well, how was I supposed to know that would happen?” The answer, of course, is, “Because I told you it would happen. I told you, showed you, gave illustrations and did everything for you but act it out, but you did it anyway.” I just love it when the response is, “Oh! That is what you were talking about.” It is about that time one mumbles under his breath, shakes his head and sighs.
Of course, I too am human, and perhaps it is the case that my communication was not clear. Perhaps, I am not perceived as a credible historian when it comes to a particular area of advice. Thus, my warning may simply not be heeded, as is the case so often with children who, despite their age, know infinitely more than their parents.
Certainly, this does not fly when it comes to sin and our relationship with God. For thousands of years, God instilled in His people not only a clear set of guidelines that define righteousness and unrighteousness (sin-free and sinful behavior), but He built for Himself credibility in the Scriptures that is unshakable. Man may try to “cloak” his sin by claiming ignorance, but God’s unmistakable system of evidence leaves all of our “excuses” wanting. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke [“excuses” NKJV] for their sin” (John 15:22 KJV).
We can look at the world and know, “There is a God” (Psalm 8:3; 33:6-9; Romans 1:20). That must lead us to want to know that God, which leads us to the Book that we call the Bible. Then, that leads a person to the facts of the Gospel, which should lead to obedience. Now, this is certainly an oversimplification of God’s system, but between the natural world and the Bible, we are left without excuse, as Christ told His disciples so long ago.
So, let me ask, “What cloak or pretext do you use to excuse your sinful behavior?” Of course, we all sin and fall short of God’s glory, but there is a big difference between failure and failure to admit it. We cannot lay our sins off on God, saying, “Oh! That is what You meant!” Remove that cloak, admit your faults and give God your broken life so He can mend you and make you whole.
Pain with Purpose
People experience hurt in many ways. There is a pain beyond imagination caused by a disease with no cure. There is a temporary pain that comes with curable ailments. There is emotional pain that comes from loneliness, disappointment and hurt – hurt, perhaps, something we have experienced as the result of a friend turning his back on us. Pain may also come when our dreams suddenly seem beyond our reach or when we must bid farewell to a loved one who is dying.
There is also a pain that commonly comes upon all of us as we attempt to engage the battle to maintain ourselves spiritually. Sometimes, it is the pain of growth and development or of seeing brothers and sisters hurt as we ache with them. It could be the agony of brethren who have gone astray or of seeing the church of our Lord split or divided – fuming and fussing. This kind of inner turmoil threatens to keep us from the great mission that God has set for us.
The apostle Paul endured incredible physical hardships as the result of his service for our Lord, but he was nonetheless conscious of the dangers that were present for the church. Of all the pains and turmoil in his life, his ever-present concern was for the spiritual side of life.
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV)
It is inevitable that we will be beset with various pains, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. The key, however, is that we continue to move forward regardless of the constant pressure to just give up. Our trust in God for the ultimate final victory needs to be such that the pain we feel will lend itself to the purpose of strengthening rather than weakening.