"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies
in your minds because of your evil behavior.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through
death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation."
Enemies! That is such a harsh word. But this verse clearly states we were once enemies of God's. In looking back at my own life, I can't remember a time when I didn’t want to know God so I kind of thought these verses referred to everyone but me. After all I hadn’t committed adultery. I hadn't murdered. I hadn't robbed a bank. I had tried not to slander His name. Yet, as I have grown to know God and His word, I've learned He measures things in a different way than I do. Matthew makes it clear that even to indulge in lust in our minds is to commit adultery, to hate is to murder, to covet is to steal, and to think lies about God in my mind is to slander Him. If I measure my righteousness by God’s righteousness, I fall so short, By His standard, I have committed adultery, murder, slander, and theft.In our culture of being "politically correct" we've begun to playing down the concept of sin. We white wash it in an effort to make ourselves not seem so sinful or so we do not offend someone else who is practicing sin. It seems like we're living in an angry society that is masked by those claiming people are resilient and should not be tenderhearted. In his book Bold Love, Dr. Dan Allender says, "Sometimes, a small word that is coated with irritation, contempt, haughtiness, or anger can sink deep into our souls and set off a profound series of chain reactions." Think of all the insults students hear throughout their day. Think of all the catty comments women take in at work or the barbs exchanged in a church setting under the guise of joking. Over time, damage is done to our hearts.
I didn’t grow up in church and I came to it on my own as a child. I expected it to be different. I expected it to be a place where the kindest people dwelled. Sometimes that has been true. But I have also seen some of the most sarcastic, rude, unkind people there. One of the things the church views as acceptable when it is masked as concern is gossip. Proverbs 26:22 and 17:9 say, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels' they go down in a man's inmost part…He who covers over an offense promotes love; but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."
Why is gossip so evil? Gossip is a hateful act, because it is something we do that springs from our insecurities. When we repeat words it deepens our position of power in our inner circle of friends. It is a hateful act because we are excluding someone else from being part of the group. With our words, we break hearts, kill reputations, destroy ministries, deaden others' passion, and sever friendship. We can harm another when we speak truth to them with out bathing it in prayer, using cutting words that leave no room for discussion, reconciliation, or prayer. Truth should be spoken directly, but shrouded in love and humility. Angry words spoken without a deep desire for reconciliation wounds hearts deeply! When I got overly tired and stressed, I reacted in anger at my own small children. It still causes my heart to cringe when I remember their little faces. I know my words damaged their souls.
We were created needy and when we don't get what we need, we covet and get angry. James 4:2 says "You want something: but you don't get it. You kill and covet." It is easy to recognize lust when it comes in a overt form like sexual sin, but it is much harder to recognize it when it takes on non-sexual forms. To want something so bad we will do anything it takes to get it is lust. It could be money, clothing, cars, position, power, and acceptance. Lust is often the result of trying to alleviate a feeling of emptiness and anger results when we try to fill the emptiness with things that do not really lead to contentment. All it does is produces a never-ending cycle of just wanting more. Discontentment will always take us further away from God and His love, which is really all that can satisfy us.
But, the hope that we have is that God has reconciled us to Himself and we are no longer His enemies. We are His children, joint heirs with Christ. He even says because of what Jesus has done on the cross we are holy, without blemish, and free from accusation.
As we neglect spending time with the Lord we may find ourselves falling back into the patterns of behavior consistent with His enemies. To be honest there are times inwardly that I find my head filled with thoughts of rebellion and wanting to fill my needs my own way, because I want instant gratification. Sadly, I know that turning to the Lord and spending time in His word would help more? Renewing my mind will give me great intimacy with Him. We need to ask ourselves, “Are our emotions dominated by love or insecurity? Are they dominated by selfishness or a giving spirit? Are they dominated by envy or a giving heart? Are they dominated by hatred or by love?” If we become more honest in calling our own sin evil and detestable, we just might be motivated to not play around with it so much. If we were honest about how evil sin is, we would be more prone to cry out to God in desperate need of His power and strength to transform our sinful desires with His holy desires for us.
Prayer: Father, your love is so pure and so deep. It is hard to fathom it with our own sinful hearts that are steeped in inappropriate motives and hearts that have been wounded and have a shroud of protective rage that is ready to erupt…break the cycle with us, Lord. Heal our hurts and help the church become people who are reflective of your love and care. Help us to be different than the world in all that we do and say. Amen.