Monday, April 15, 2013

No More Excuses

I wonder how confident we are about our Christian walk. Would we be willing to tell someone to look at our example? More often than not we make excuses: "I'm only human", "I'm not perfect, just forgiven". I guess it is our way of apologizing or seeking forgiveness. Or is it our way of avoiding holiness? All I know is that when I read Paul's testimony he was not afraid to say to people, "Do what I do", "Consider my example".

Look at what Paul wrote to Timothy, someone who spent long periods of time with Paul and would have seen his private as well as his public face:

Timothy, you know what I teach and how I live. You know what I want to do and what I believe. You have seen how patient and loving I am, and how in the past I put up with trouble and suffering in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. (2 Timothy 2:10-11)

You know what I teach and how I live. There are two "you know" statements and then there is the amazing, "you have seen". Paul is reminding Timothy that he lives what he preaches, and Timothy knows it. Paul did not hold up high standards for others that he was not living himself. Neither was he excusing other people's attitudes and behaviours so he himself could live such a low standard. Paul was determined to be like Jesus and he expected others to have the same desire.

Paul took Jesus at his word and he had faith to believe that everything was possible through Jesus. That includes holy living. It includes the righteousness of God. I don't see in any of Paul's writings where excuses were offered and I don't see where excuses were extended. We have been called to live according to the Word God has written on our heart, confirmed by the Spirit and the written testimony he has given to us. It is a daily surrender and a growing process but it is not a system of poor excuses.

We have not been left here to struggle with sin. Sin is done with and if it happens then God's grace and forgiveness is abundant but we are not to use that grace as an excuse to sin. We need to be careful of our attitude that it is not a "God will forgive me because he understands how weak I am". We were weak but we aren't any more. We are filled by the resurrection power, possessed by the Spirit of God. When we sin it is a rebellious act against God, lacking in love. For such a thing, we had better repent and not expect God simply to "understand". He does understand and he sent Jesus to take care of the matter. Now we are more than conquerors and had better start acting that way instead of like the weaklings we like to project.

More than conquerors, I am telling you and it means that when God tells me to be holy as he is holy that he has made it possible for me. Not because I will my behaviour, attitude and desires to change but because I submit to the Spirit's authority to change them in me. It is a decision to decide for Jesus every single time and when I fail to do so, not to excuse it but deal with it. "Lord, you made me capable of saying no but in my selfishness, I decided against you and said yes to my selfishness. Forgive me and help me understand more fully how your love has transformed me. Sin no longer has authority over me but I gave it that authority and for this I am sorry. I will run from evil and run to you."

All of us should be able to say to a "Timothy", "Look at my example". All of us. No more excuses. No more slogans. No more easy outs. We are called to be God's holy nation, set aside for his purpose, by his design. He has declared us to be holy and has transformed us to be holy. We are more that conquerors through Jesus Christ, our King.

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