I seem to have stumbled upon so many inconsistencies lately, either in both my own and other people’s thinking or lifestyle. I guess those inconsistencies are always there but somehow we seem to notice them more profoundly at certain times.
It interesting how the inconsistencies I see in others – particularly believers – seem to be so difficult to understand and accept. They wind you up, disappoint you and can even hurt you deeply. ‘Why can they not see’, ‘why are they reacting like this’, ‘how can they be Bible readers and believers but somehow blatantly ignore or disregard its teaching – even using excuses at times’?
Then a thought struck me in the midst of this. I was wondering whether I wasn’t actually seeing those inconsistencies as a mirror-like reflection of my own inconsistencies. Mine might be different, they might appear subtler and I might be much better trained at disguising them. But they are there, and somehow I do not seem to be as wound-up and judgemental about them as I am of others. How typical…
Pondering the meaning of my recent ‘discovery’ I asked the Lord whether I could learn some valuable lessons for my own life and walk with Him. After prayer and thinking here are some of the notes to myself (I share them with you in the hope that you might find them useful too):
- Must become humble – not feel superior. I might not be guilty of their particular sins but I must never forget that God alone is good. Pride can always creep in especially when confronted with a discovery of sinfulness in others’ lives.
- Must become compassionate – Judging by Jesus’ reactions this is a very appropriate reaction towards sin. Anger is a possible present ingredient of our reaction but that must be directed towards the sin and its effects and not the sinner. We must never forget that Jesus always saw a redemptive opportunity, even in those that were deemed losers… Compassion, however, is not to be understood as a soft option, a ‘let’s be tolerant and nice’ kind of attitude. A difficult one – this is (I could almost hear Yoda say)…
- Must become holy – it is so easy to become familiar with our inconsistencies and allow them to become ‘spiritual squatters’ that we put up with. I must never forget that I am involved in a battle. As Allan Redpath once reminded us: ‘The Christian life is a battleground and not a playground.’ Once again, this is not about works, legalism or evangelical self-improvement. It is about hunger and thirst for righteousness, passionately seeking the values of the Kingdom of God and using the spiritual disciplines as God-given means of grace for spiritual growth.
- Must pray for my fellow sinners – this is one of the reasons that God allows us to see these things so that we can intercede for those around us. Prayer will always put all things into perspective; through prayer we enter into God’s presence and therefore begin to sense His heart for those that sin.
- Must read, learn and study the Word – this can be the greatest influence that influences our lives towards consistency through teaching, encouragement, rebuke and inspiration.
‘This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:5-9