Matter of the heart? (sin series)

I have been writing and thinking about sin for the past week…

I addressed some black and white sins listed in the Bible and I reminded you (and myself) that God loved me before I could do anything to win or lose His affections – it’s not about my works.

Today I want to address your heart. My heart.

When I started thinking about my reoccurring battle with particular sins awhile back, I always equated my level of struggle with a particular sin with how much I loved God. For example, I’d think things like, “wow, I did that 4 times this week, I must not really love God. Who am I kidding.” Or even things like, “You can’t stop doing that, it’s who you are, so really you don’t love God, you love that sin.” I was so discouraged by my thoughts – by the enemies lies – about the state of my heart. I felt like I was pursuing God with all that I am at times, yet I still continued to struggle with particular sins. I still struggle with the same sins but I also feel like I’m pursuing God more than ever in my life previously. 

That’s when God started speaking to me, the other night at church. He whispered quietly to my tired heart,

“I know you so well – I created you. I know where you are tempted and how you have failed. I see it each time. And I love you just as much in that moment as the moments you are shouting My praises. There is nothing you can do to make Me love you more. You are my beloved.”

That is something I told myself so many times before – that God loves me no matter what I do, yada, yada. But to feel Him whisper that to me in my hurt, in my disappointment, in my shame. Oh my heart was broken with gratitude for the mercy and grace of my Savior and God.

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I think most of us can quote the verse about being saved through faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-10). But do we understand how just as we cannot earn our salvation, we cannot earn the love of God?

Think about it for just a minute. Wherever you are.

God loves you:

despite your jealousy of your neighbor…

despite the lie you told to your spouse…

despite the number of drinks you had…

despite the images you viewed online…

despite the debt you’re in…

despite the hatred you have toward your coworker…

despite your filth…

despite your selfishness..

despite your bad attitude…

despite the words you said in anger…

despite the last time you went to church…

despite the last time you talked to Him.

HE. LOVES. YOU… JUST AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW.

It blows my mind. For more about sin, grace, mercy, and God’s love for you, see below!

You are loved, friends. Walk peacefully in that truth today.

For more:

photo credit to my brother, Daniel. Follow him on instagram @ an_idiot_abroad

Before works (sin series)

As I previously said, I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately.

It’s overwhelming.

Yesterday, I was brought to tears during the singing/worship time at church. I was reminded of how God feels about me, no matter what I have done, am doing, or will do. Here are some quotes from Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick I also read that struck me deep:

“…every weakness you know about yourself, God knows in greater detail than you could ever imagine. He knows the defect as well as what causes the defect.” (p. 27)

“Before you were born – before any of your defects were apparent to you – they were absolutely apparent to God. That didn’t stop Him from calling your name and setting you apart. He placed you on the earth at a certain time for pre-decided purpose.” (p.27)

“…even when you can’t seem to get your act together, your identity is secure and completely intact. Because in Christ, who you are matters infinitely more than anything you do or cannot do.” (p.27)

Furtick tells the story of Jesus being baptized in Matthew 3:16-17 and the point when He received God’s approval – at the beginning of his ministry, before Jesus had actually started doing anything he had been called to at this point.

Before he had the chance to use works to earn God’s favor. 

It is the same for you and I. God loved us the minute He created us, or probably before, however that time thing works with God.

He loved you and He loved me before we had the chance to try and use our works to “get on his good side.”  I’ll explore this more later, but for today, dwell on this:

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Far from SINple.

I have been thinking a lot lately about sin. We all sin, (Romans 3:23), we all struggle with things, and we all are called to repent of our sins (Matthew 3:2, Acts 3:19).

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It isn’t simple to define sin.

Lately, I have felt like God is trying to teach me more about sin. He is trying to point out to me some obvious sins, but also calling me to pray for my eyes to be opened to things I am doing that don’t realize are sinful.

Okay, so what the heck constitutes a sin, anyway?

We know murder is a big no-no.

Probably shouldn’t steal either.

Lying is probably bad, but when I tell my kid clients “that makes me sad” when they run down the hallway instead of using their walking feet, and really I don’t have a change of emotion from happy to sad… I mean is that a sin?

So to start this series, I wanted to delve into some named sins in the Bible. These are black and white areas, they are not up for question.

These are sins listed in the Bible:

  • Having more than one god (Exodus 20:3)
  • Serving other idols and gods (Exodus 20:4-6)
  • Using God’s name as a curse or swear (Exodus 20:7)
  • Not keeping the sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8-11)
  • Dishonoring your mom or dad (Exodus 20:12)
  • Murdering (Exodus 20:13)
  • Cheating on your souse (Exodus 20:14)
  • Stealing (Exodus 20:15)
  • Lying about others (Exodus 20:16)
  • Jealousy over what your friends have that you don’t (Exodus 20:17)

Ok… Well.

Phew.

As I was typing out those commands from Exodus 20 where Moses is given the 10 Commandments from God, I was overwhelmed what each of those things might look like in my life:

  • Having more than one god (Exodus 20:3)
  • Serving other idols and gods (Exodus 20:4-6): serving money, caring about other’s opinions of me more than God’s (which plays into the clothes I buy, how I spend my money, what I say, how I do my hair, how much I might workout, etc.), working too much for the love of money or “fame”.
  • Using God’s name as a curse or swear (Exodus 20:7): maybe this means all cursing, maybe it just means don’t say “God ___” or “oh my god!”…
  • Not keeping the sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8-11): working 7 days out of the week, not taking time to focus my attention on God, taking no rest, spending all my time busying up my life so I forget what’s really important, not setting aside time for the Body of Christ.
  • Dishonoring your mom or dad (Exodus 20:12): doing things that would shame my parents, or maybe this could also mean shaming my Heavenly Father, lying to my parents, being rude to my parents, abusing the things my parents have given me, etc.
  • Murdering (Exodus 20:13): well, I did kill that fly… and that house plant… I kid, but this one seems pretty forthright.
  • Cheating on your spouse (Exodus 20:14): don’t sleep with another person, don’t kiss them, don’t lust after them physically or emotionally; what about putting your job before your relationship with your spouse? what about having a friend you start spending more time with than your spouse?
  • Stealing (Exodus 20:15): clocking in 5 minutes before your shift starts but not working, for me it’d be saying I saw a client for longer than I did so I could get more minutes towards my productivity requirement and, thus, earn my bonus. What about borrowing my roommates something-or-other without asking?
  • Lying about others (Exodus 20:16): saying someone did something that they didn’t, lying to others
  • Jealousy over what your friends have that you don’t (Exodus 20:17): this one is the worst for me – wishing I had their things, their relationships, their trips, their hair, their body, their clothes, etc.

Phew, again.

So the bold parts are the black-and-white, we know we are commanded not to do those things. But where it gets fishy and so confusing are those italicized parts. I guess according to some moral standard I know I am not supposed to do a lot of those things, but are they sin?

The dictionary defines sin as “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against a divine law.”

Well that was helpful.

I think this is where sin can be so rough. As a woman pursuing God, I am trying my best to live according to His commands for all humans, but also for my life. And I could beat myself up about sin daily, because we are all guilty and probably so each minute of the day.

The first step for all of us is to ask for forgiveness for sin – name them if you choose. 

The next step is to ask God to reveal our hidden sins. By hidden I mean those that we aren’t even aware of being sinful.

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Take the time to do that today.