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Struggles and Stumbling

March 20, 2007

In Romans, we know that Paul says, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

He also tells us that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

As Christians, we know that it is a common perception that Christians “think” they don’t sin. So, when the world “catches” us in our sin, then we’re deemed “fake” or “phony” or discredible. We are also prone to buy in to that! Because when we do succumb to sin … when we struggle … and when we stumble and fall … don’t we also process it as a lack of faith … unworthiness … failure … and perhaps even, a hypocrite?

But also as Christians, we know (or at least we say we know) that ” God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Now that’s no excuse to go out and live like “hell.”

If there is one thing…ONE THING…that gets my blood to boiling, it’s DUPLICITY of mouth, mind and spirit. When I see it in myself, I am un-nerved … sickened … ashamed. Of late, I’ve come to recognize that too often duplicity comes simply from “not knowing who you are…where you come from…or Who sent you.”

A friend of mine has written a great new study called, I Believe. The overall message of this study is that our beliefs directly influence our behavior. Or to put it another way, our behavior is directly influenced by what we believe.

So it brings into perspective some alarming truths…when we openly and flagrantly….or even, passively SIN — what is it really that we believe?

Do we even know?

I heard my pastor telling about the circumstances of the culture when Jesus stepped into the picture over 2000 years ago.  There were so many rules and regulations that the people were simply overwhelmed with trying to function within the confines of the society.  Pastor posed the question to the audience, “So what did they do?”

His answer?  “They faked it.”   They walked around trying to pose, in hopes that others would not see the “inside” and think they actually had it all together.  I suppose that much like our society today, it was a devastating embarrassment when their masks crumbled.

But for crying out loud!  Who ever said that we are expected to have it ALL together?  From the fall of man in the garden, I think God recognized that we just couldn’t do it.  In fact, He knew it before He ever created us.

But here’s the ticket as I see it — God didn’t create us to just keep the rules. He created us for a living and loving relationship with Him.  Yes, it’s true — HE hates sin and He doesn’t want it in His presence.  But moreover it is TRUE, HE LOVES US!  If He didn’t love us, WHY…WHY in the world would He give His Son’s life to pay the penalty for our sin.

I’ve never been loved like that … except by Him.  Even in all my struggles and stumbling … He still loves me. And I believe this … I DO.

So what’s the reason for the “faking?”  Why the need to “go through the motions” and live a life of duplicity? What’s the call on our hearts and minds that lead us to the things that are absolutely detrimental to our emotional, physical and spiritual health?

A friend of mine used to use say, “Don’t measure me by your half-bushel.”  Maybe, we don’t believe God and His Word, because we are measuring Him by our own half-bushel.  We know how we perceive and judge others who are caught in sin, and who falter, struggle and stumble.  So we think He sees things the same way.

When actually, His Word plainly says, “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.”  His Word says, “man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart of a man.”   And maybe, deep down we know that our hearts are deceitful (like God’s Word says), and we know that God sees that deceit too.   So with resolve we succumb to the idea that though we might not be able to “fake it” with God (for God is not mocked), the next best thing is to live a life of “what appears to be far outweighs was really is.”

Oh the stress and anxiety and sheer waste of energy that creates.

I admit it. I struggle with “stuff” — I stumble.  And when that happens, I do feel like an utter failure and completely unworthy of God’s call, purpose and love for me.  I wonder how He can keep investing in me. I wonder why He just doesn’t wash His hands of me.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to “get it altogether” here in this life.

And when I ask these questions…the answer simply boils down to the comment of my friend, “Don’t measure God by your own half-bushel.”

Can I stop sinning?

It seems not.

Do I even want to?  Ahhh, therein lies the rub for most of us.

I think that when that question is answered in an adamant and  affirmative way, then the road to recovering from the struggles and stumbling seems to lead in a more clear and focused direction. Deciding that living a life of duplicity is simply too heavy a load to bear, brings in to light the TRUTH of whether ONE is willing and able to embrace (and hold on tightly) to the love, and mercy and grace that God offers to those who will simply “believe.”

There is always a finger pointing  and a voice saying, “Aha, you failed again!  You are NOT worthy of God’s love.”

I can believe that. 

But more than that, I firmly believe that no one, NOT EVEN GOD, would sacrifice His Only Son for someone who was not worth loving.  And that’s exactly what He did for me.

So yes, those who follow Christ will and do struggle, and they stumble.   Some do it flagrantly, while others do it passively. Still, sin is sin — and God hates sin.

God’s Word also says that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Another friend of mine (a preacher friend) once told me, (whilst I was experiencing one of my self-condemning stupors), “show yourself a little mercy.”

“I don’t deserve mercy.” was my reply.

“Then be like Jesus, and show yourself a little GRACE…then get up out of the dirt and do what you know is right.”

Stop wallowing in your struggles and stumbles.

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