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Friday, December 18, 2015

Not another bite!

I imagine there are a whole lot of things in this life I just take for granted - let's be honest here - not all of the things which others see as "privilege" in my life are continuously appreciated by me!  We all have a tendency to take some things for granted - maybe more than we know it.  We don't appreciate our good health until we are fully consumed by that winter cold.  We don't realize the benefit of having a car at our disposal until it breaks down and the repairs will tax our budget to the max to get it fixed.  We sometimes don't even appreciate each other until one of us too busy, or even gone for a while from the "mix" of the relationship. Why is it we "take for granted" things and people in life?  I think it has something to do with us becoming very comfortable with life and forgetting our comfort could one day be challenged a little!  To take for granted simply means we "assume" something will always be as it has been - and we end up treating whatever that is in a careless or indifferent manner.  When it comes to God's grace, may we never reach the place of indifference!

Do you take the kindness of God for granted? Do you see His patience and tolerance as signs that He is a push-over when it comes to sin? How could you not know that His kindness is guiding our hearts to turn away from distractions and habitual sin to walk a new path? (Romans 2:4 VOICE)

I don't think I have ever purposefully thought of God as a "push-over" when it comes to sin. I know he takes a firm stand when he draws the line in the sand and says this side is right, that side is wrong.  Yet, if you examine my actions, you might think there have been times when I have "pushed the envelope" a little on that "taking for granted" thing!  Maybe we all have on occasion.  God is patient and sometimes we see his patience as him not really "paying attention" to how close we are to the line, or being all that concerned with where that "line-walking" may land us in the end.  His patience should never be confused with his tolerance of sinful deeds, though.  He doesn't EVER tolerate sin - plain and simple. Compromise is compromise - there are no "degrees" of sin.  Maybe this comes as a surprise to some of us because we might have been raised to allow little white lies as "not so bad" because we only tell them to "preserve the feelings" of another.  A lie is a lie - there are no "degrees" to lying.  Any time we get to the place of "grading" our sin or compromise, we are in danger of beginning to accept what he clearly says to stay away from.

God's grace - and his patience with our frequent return to this line in the sand to see just how close we can get without being too far from that line - is not something we want to take for granted (become so careless with it that we treat it with indifference).  When there is indifference in our lives, carelessness is sure to follow.  Why?  We stop paying attention. That lack of attentiveness actually leads us to places where we disregard the warnings we receive, or the truth we know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true in our lives.  Eventually, we detach from whatever it is we once had as a determined focus in life and pursue other things which have become the distractions gaining our attention at the moment.  This is how compromise happens - not as a big-bang kind of moment, but as subtle little steps of indifferent and distracted moments.  Now, we are ripe to give into sin - simply because we have become indifferent to God's grace.

Think about the last time you had an insect bite of some sort.  That bite just kept itching, swelling to bright red each time you gave into the desire to scratch it, until you ended up with this huge welt of sorts bulging from your leg or arm.  It started out small - almost unnoticeable, didn't it?  Under the surface of the skin, this response started to this bite - and before long, what was once unnoticed becomes the thing you just cannot seem to forget about!  You try everything known to mankind to just get the itching to go away - painting it with this ointment or that cream, and even trying "unconventional remedies" you heard might just work.  Sin isn't much different in our lives - it sometimes comes quite unnoticed. Sure, we know it is there as much as we know the mosquitoes are out in full force in the evening hours.  Yet, we just don't pay attention to taking "precautions" to avoid the "sting" of sin!  What may have crept up on us unnoticed, even managed to get hold of us unnoticed, will not stay unnoticed for very long!  Eventually what "bites us" will leave an impression!

God's patience with us is not indifference toward our sin or compromise.  His hope is that we will turn our heart toward him because we desire his grace more than we desire anything else in life.  His mission is to gain our entire heart, not just the infrequent moments we take with him on Sundays.  If he gives us "space" to figure that out, it isn't because he wants us to suffer the "bite" of sin - but because he knows we will never fully lean into him until we realize how "defenseless" we are against sin without his grace to move away from its sting! Just sayin!