You may notice that I talk about sin and repentance alot on this blog. Well, truth be told, it's because sin is a large part of my life, far more than I want it to be; and when I recognize it, I have to process it--I have to own it, repent of it, and seek the Lord's deliverance from it. This is a daily aspect of my life, and I foresee it will be for each and every day this side of eternity.
Of late, the sins with which I struggle most often have not been overt but hidden: the sins of my heart and mind. My thoughts. Now, I am not of the theological school that believes each fleeting ill thought that pops into my head is a sin, but I agree with the Apostle Paul's admonition that "We...take every thought captive to obey Christ," (2 Corinthians 10:5b). This area is where I fail, for I do not take those fleeting thoughts captive, but rather I let them run for a bit. A judgmental idea gets verified with further evidences and memory, and over time what was a blip in my mind has become a reasoned assertion. I see something I want, but I cannot leave it at that; I dwell on the thing; I think of my life with that thing. I covet. I hear of injustice; I hear of those responsible. My heart turns not for their rehabilitation or redemption but for their pain and their hurt. What began as righteous indignation over wrongdoing grows into malice and wrath against persons.
And I hate this. I hate this because I can feel it gnaw at me after it happens. I also know it wounds the Lord. I hate this because it's a searing indictment of the sinner I am rather than the power of Christ living in me. I do not even know when the pattern began or how it has so unscrupulously evolved. I cannot go back to a time when I developed the habit of brooding myself into a sinful corner, but now I seem to find myself comfortably there by reflex.
What a horrific realization this been. Perhaps I failed in heeding that wisdom of ancients found in Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heard, for everything you do flows from it" (NIV). Perhaps I have simply failed to focus on my standing or my blessings before God rather than my comparative virtues against other humans. Perhaps this all reduces to pride going unchecked and now running rampant in the face of my attending to other areas of sin in my life. As I said, the source of this newly recognized and all-too-convicting habit is unknown.
But it must be fought regardless. Both of the above referenced verses need to be returned to the forefront of my mind for the coming season. My very thought process must be recalibrated within the construct of guarding and taking hold of that which does not glorify God, for if I am failing to love others and honor God in the hidden world of my thoughts, how can I truly be loving and honoring in my actions? I cannot.
So many more scriptures come to mind as I write this: Christ's discussion with the Pharisees in Mark chapter 7, wherein he insists that it is not what goes into a person but what flows from them that defiles them; the fourth chapter of James, which features the harsh condemnation that strife is borne of internal sin. I think of the admonitions of Phillipians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13. I remember these passages and see my failure so clearly. I know my judgmental thoughts may not hurt another directly, but they dishonor God and they also poison me toward others. This cannot stand. Oh what sin is borne in us while we look the other way. But no longer. This will be a long road to be certain, but what a worthwhile journey to take, and how glad I am that I discovered this now rather than ten years from now, when my soul might have been left in ruins because of it.
I hope that as you read this confession, you are filled not with grief for me but with hope. I know that I grow in the latter with each passing sentence, for the Lord has shown me may wayward heart once again--he has not let me be blind to it and thus dead to his His Spirit. No, his Spirit is in me and alive, showing me the ways in which it still contests for other strongholds in my heart, even as I continue to celebrate the fall of another one. God is being good in showing me this, and while I lament over this sin, I take joy in the fact that I can fight it. How great is our God to move in our hearts despite our iniquities.
Thanks for reading,