Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rotten Apples - Lenten Journey Day 6

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:29

I eat produce, mainly veggies, like most people eat candy.  I know: it’s strange. 

Just earlier today I curled up and ate a bag of celery - don’t judge me. 

But needless to say, I am very serious about my vegetables.

Recently I went to the grocery store to grab a few items, including some fresh spinach.  When I got home, I threw the items in the crisper and went on with my day.  A few days later I went to use the spinach and to my shock and veggie-adoring HORROR the spinach was already wilting and turning mushy. I was completely confused. I had spent time picking the freshest batch, how could it go bad so quickly?? Had a plague befallen my refrigerator?  (You laugh but I think these things in those moments).  With no signs of baby locusts, my eyes fell to the culprit; an apple had fallen into my vegetable crisper.  I picked it up.  It looked so harmless, but it had done some serious damage. 

We’ve all heard the saying that “one bad apple spoils a bunch”; well an apple can pretty much spoil any sensitive produce.  Even healthy apples emit a gas that quickens the ripening process for other produce.  Sorry for the science lesson, but one little oversight and my produce was destroyed before I even realized it.
When God speaks to us, He often shows us areas of our life that are out of alignment with His will: unforgiveness (Matthew 6:15), a spirit of gossip (Proverbs 11:!3), materialism (Hebrews 13:5), pornography (Matthew 5:28), fornication (1 Corinthians 6:13), stealing (Ephesians 4:28), addictions (Romans 6:16), etc.

You get the picture.  Sin. Big or small, they are all offensive to the eyes of God.
Why? Because when God looks at your sin, He sees its toxic nature for what it is.  He sees it emitting harmful energy into the rest of your being. He sees what it’s doing to His precious child.

Destroying you.

However that revelation comes, whether directly from the Holy Spirit or through the wisdom of another brother/sister in Christ, it’s never an easy conversation.  We don’t like our flaws on display.  If we did Photoshop and Spanx wouldn’t be so popular.

But once the light has revealed, we have a decision to make.

Rewind to my produce experience.  If I had seen that apple in the bin while I was storing my vegetables, and l left it in there knowing what it would do, most would call me foolish.  Why would I choose to be blind to the consequences?  Doing anything less than removing it immediately would seem ridiculous.

I’m not ready to let that go yet?”
God knows my heart.”
Perfectly understandable and common responses. 
So we bargain with ourselves.  Unready to remove it, we try to separate or hide that apple in the bin.

But here’s the problem with that.  Sin cannot be contained or ignored.  That’s like dropping black ink into a cup of water and expecting it to stay just a drop; eventually it will spread and seep into every part of that cup.  Which is why in Matthew 5:29 Jesus tells us to remove any part of us that causes us to stumble, because the whole body will reap the consequences.  I heard a powerful example of this not long ago.  A couple was working so hard to rebuild their marriage yet their marriage continued to fall deeper into a pit.  After years of turmoil God revealed to the husband that his secret addiction to pornography had left the door cracked for the enemy to enter their marriage.  His “one little sin” was destroying his entire family. 

So, when God shows you those harmful areas, He is not trying to rain on your parade, stop your fun or drive you into a guilt trip of condemnation. 

He’s trying to bring correction and preserve your life.

So what should our response be?
Repentance means not only acknowledging the presence of our flaws, but a heart to turn away from them and towards God.
Repentance is leaving Hell behind.
Repentance is removing the apple completely.

You better believe I triple check my vegetable crisper from now own. 

In the same manner we need to examine our hearts, continually.

God has invited you into His glory and the old you isn't on the guest list.

Let’s pray: Dear God, our Father full of grace and mercy, we come before you with humble hearts and ask for Your help.  God we are so far from perfect, but we thank you for the sanctification of our hearts through the blood of Your precious son, Jesus.  We want to be more like Christ, so we come to you as David did in Psalm 139:23 and ask You to search us, God, and know our hearts; test us and reveal our anxious and unrighteous thoughts.  Lord I know that (name your sin) is offensive to You.  I repent and turn away from it right now. I ask for Your strength to seal this repentant heart and to lead me in the way of everlasting truth.  In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Now listening to: Give Us Clean Hands, Kutless

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