Monster vs. Mourner. Taking a look at other men’s sins.


Guys, how does it make you feel when you see one of your Christian brothers fall?

If you’re honest, you may admit that it makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe even a bit superior to the one who fell. As you look back over the past few weeks you’ve made some pretty good progress.  You’re really moving forward.  You’re standing strong. You feel invincible!

Not like that guy, right?

It reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector that Jesus told in Luke 18:10-14….

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.  

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

The Pharisee seems pretty pleased with himself.  His prayer time consisted of reviewing his position and good works.  He was proud to tell of his giving and sacrifice.  He was thankful that he was better than the sinners – the failures – who surrounded him. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood off to the side. He humbled himself before the Lord, acknowledging his great failure and need for God.  Jesus tells us that only one went away justified – and it wasn’t the one who had it all together.

I listened to a short devotional today – a recording by Thomas Brooks titled “Other Men’s Sins”.  It’s amazing what you can learn in just a little over two minutes.  I’d like to share it with you, too.  Maybe it will make an impression on you like it did me.

In the audio clip Thomas Brooks says we should view other men’s sins with sadness – that we should mourn their sins. When we do, it helps us recognize our own fallibility and even helps us guard ourselves against failure in those same areas. When we are truly grieved by other men’s sins, we’re reminded of our own fleshly desires and the temptations that we must face and overcome daily.  At one point in the devotion, he makes the statement “he fell today and I may fall tomorrow”.   When we think this way, we’re more likely to stay on our faces before God rather than lifting them up in pride.  We recognize our own potential to fall when we hurt to see other Christians fall.

And to those who do find pleasure in seeing a Christian fall, here’s a sobering thought…

When you rejoice at the failures of those around you, you are like Satan.

That’s what he does. He rejoices when a Christian commits a sinful act.  He laughs when a man of God fails.  He smiles the smile of pride when he convinces a Christian to disobey God’s word.  It gives the devil pleasure.  Thomas Brooks said men who are like this “are rather monsters than men”.

So where is your heart right now?  Do you mourn when you see a brother fall or do you find pleasure in it?  If we’re honest, most of us have probably been both the mourner and the monster at different times in our life.  Let’s agree together right now that we will love our brothers in Christ and help them get back up if they fall. Let’s pray that the sins of others break our heart and remind us of our own imperfection and need for God’s grace.  Because we will all need it.  No matter who we are.

Take a couple of minutes to listen to the clip from Thomas Brooks then leave your thoughts in the comments area below.

Strength & Honor.

MISALIGNED. Since when was following Christ about your or my opinion?


As I was looking through a few Christian blog articles this morning I was reminded very quickly that many of the views held today by professing Christians are biblically off base – and not just a little. For example, one blog title said the author refers to God as “Sam”. Another article says that God is a woman. Another author was sharing his disagreement with the fact that the bible is the infallible word of God.  And these are Christian writers?  How can that be?

I believe these views, along with thousands of others, stem from this one simple fact:  Many Christians are not comfortable with the real, direct, and Holy God of the bible and prefer to create a god that makes more sense to them. They attempt to humanize Him and reduce His glory. They want to make Him fit into a culture-friendly mold. In their opinion, the God of the bible is too strict, too ancient, or has set the bar too high for the average person to live comfortably and still serve Him. So they invent another god – a more popular, up-to-date god that makes them feel better about the way they live.

With the varying degrees of not-biblical ideas and views about God and about being a Christian in general, it serves us well to ask our own self the question:

Who exactly are we serving…  God or god?

Maybe we don’t refer to Him as Sam or think of Him as a woman, but do we worship a god who is ok with our addiction, with our jealousy, or with our pride? Do we serve a god who allows our lust remain unchecked because he understands our ‘human nature’? Instead of serving the God of grace and mercy and love, do we serve the gods of grace and mercy and love, believing the real God would never judge us because He knows how hard it is to live holy?

God, the one and only true, has identified Himself well in His word. Contrary to what some may say, the bible is infallible – it is absolute truth. That means what God says about Himself is true. What He says about His love, grace, and mercy is true. And what He says about sin in true. In this we should find comfort because God doesn’t expect us to ‘figure Him out’ or uncover the mystery of what He requires. He lets us know plainly. Because of His word we know that He alone is God, that He is in charge, that He is perfect, and He is our Father. A Father who loves us with all His heart – so much so that He died for us.

God was loving enough to provide a written letter to us explaining who He is, why we were created, why we fell, and how we are redeemed.  We don’t have to spend our life debating those things. We just have to take Him at his word and choose to live for Him.

Is that what you’ve done or have you been drafted into the debate?

And by the way, I don’t call Him Sam. I call Him Father.

 

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Photo by Antony Theobald, Flickr.com – License

 

Who Do You Think You Are?


Have you ever heard the devil ask you this question?

Many times we don’t recognize it as coming from him, we think it’s our own insufficiency and insecurities.  But don’t be fooled, it is an attack from the enemy and if we’re not ready, it can be a debilitating phrase that causes us to doubt everything that God says we are.  It has the potential to make our legs buckle.  Our stomach turn.  Our prayers stop.

“Who do you think you are?”

He shouts it loud in the middle of a tough decision when you are determined to maintain integrity, refusing to compromise.

He says it with a sneer while you are praying and fasting for a closer walk with God.

He whispers it in your ear while you are believing for a great miracle in your life or in the life of someone you know.

The hateful, accusing, lying voice of the enemy will surely penetrate your thoughts at times.  His goal?  To make you question your relationship with Christ, the power you have through Him, and His promises over your life.

“….He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV)

While the attack may seem overwhelming at times, knowing who we are in Christ gives us the ability to stand strong in the face of the enemy.  Here are a few of the things God says about His children. Learn these and let them mark the beginning of the end for the devil and his deception in your life.

We are a people who walk with authority

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19 NIV)

We live fearless though perfect love…

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

We are free through our relationship with Jesus…

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

We have power through obedience to Christ and standing firm…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

While the lies are certain to come, we are not powerless against the attack.   We do not have to fear or cower when the devil attacks us, trying to make us doubt our worth.  We can stand with authority and power in Christ, knowing He stands with us.

The next time the devil asks  “Who do you think you are?”  you can passionately say,

“I’m a blood bought child of God.” 

Then remind of who he is… and his future.