Tag Archives: Sanctification

Indulgence is Not a Worthy ‘Reward’

22 Jul

Ethel Mae woke up in the middle of the night and decided to get a drink of water. 

But on the way to the refrigerator, she passed the candy dish and grabbed a butterscotch candy. Then on the way to the cupboard for a glass, she opened the snack drawer and grabbed a Hostess Twinkie. Then she took her glass over to the refrigerator to get some chilled water and stopped off at the cookie jar for some peanut butter cookiesFinally, she picked up the pitcher and poured herself some water. And grabbed the leftover pie on the top shelf before she shut the refrigerator door.

After munching on her treats, she headed back to bed and crawled under the covers; but she accidentally woke up her husband, Harry, who said he felt thirsty. 

“I’ll get it!” Ethel Mae said … getting up with a big smile. 

I can’t say I’ve had a middle-of-the-night food binge like that, but when I went on a food program to get healthy and lose weight, I soon realized how indulgent I can be.

John Bloom at DesiringGod.org says, “We are all self-indulgers. The whole lot of us. Let’s just admit it upfront and help each other fight!”

Indulgence is foolish and selfish.

And sinful!

When we indulge rather than fight or abstain from “the passions of the flesh,” we’re only inviting more problems.

[I’m not talking about the planned-for dessert or a well-chosen and hopefully healthy occasional “treat.” There’s a difference related to motive.]

We know indulgence when we see it. Indulgence puts a damper on our desire to please the Lord and is contrary to wisely stewarding our bodies.

Indulgence can be heinous, but it can be subtle too. It can even be a form of idolatry. The enemy of our soul can even deceive us into believing indulgence is a good thing… a REWARD.

What? A reward?

Yes, I discovered this trickery while deep into my healthy eating plan. I proudly marked off a week of staying “on program” and said to myself,

You deserve a treat!”

So I started with an extra “allowable” food bar (which is really a candy bar dressed up in protein).

  • Then a few animal crackers.
  • Then a brownie.
  • Then an ice cream sandwich.

Soon, I was totally out of control.

I was living out what my nutritionist says,

“You have the disease of ‘MORE!'”

It’s a “heart” disease, and escalating indulgence is one of the clues I have it.

We need to be careful when we equate “deserving” with indulging. Indulgence—too much of a good thing—can be a first step on a fresh journey away from self-control. 

That’s how subtle this form of idolatry is. The thing we indulge in—in my case, sugar or overly-starchy foods—can become a driving “master” in our lives; we can find our indulgence addictive and destructive.

Our emotions can trick us.

Bloom says, “At the moment of indulging, it doesn’t feel like an enemy. It feels like a reward that makes us happy. … But after indulging, defeat hangs like a heavy yoke around the neck of our souls.”

I thought indulgence was my “reward” for obedience and wise choices. But that was a lie—a false promise built on a false premise.

My reward should have been the joy found in pleasing the Lord.

Rather than the joy of fulfilling a temporary craving, I should have focused on eternal truths like the one found in Luke 9:23-25:

… “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

The truth is, indulgence should not be part of my life in ANY form—pride and self-glory, greed, gluttony or any lust of the flesh.

I should be “awake and have control,” not be sleepy and indulgent!

My body is God’s dwelling place, and I am set apart for the praise of His glory.

Being “set apart” is being sanctified and holy, and those words are incongruous with the word “indulgent.”

But I have to confess. Sometimes it’s just plain hard not to indulge.

That’s when I need an eternal focus. I must remember my real reward is the “prize” awaiting me from the Lord at His return.

As Jesus said in Revelation 22:12: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”

And His reward will be a lot more satisfying than a middle-of-the-night food spree.

Do you struggle with indulging in sinful attitudes and behaviors? What is the lie you are believing, or the false promise you’re embracing? 

 – Dawn

Graphic courtesy of cohdra-Morguefile

 

 

Redouble Your Efforts

15 Oct

Somewhat skeptical of his son’s new found determination to become Charles Atlas, the father nevertheless spiritualexercise_lolwithgod_weights_jeltovski_morguefilefollowed the teenager over to the weight-lifting department, admiring a set of weights.

“Please, Dad,” pleaded the boy, “I promise I’ll use ’em every day.”

“I don’t know, Michael. It’s really a commitment on your part,” the father pointed out.

“Please, Dad?” the boy continued.

“They’re not cheap either,” the father came back.

“I’ll use ’em Dad, I promise. You’ll see.”

Finally won over, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door.

From the corner of the store he heard his son yelp, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?” *

LOL.

That kid sounds just like me! In fact, some time ago, I broke up with my gym. We were just not working out. **

I don’t naturally “take” to exercise, but I know it’s good for me, so I persevere to find time for short spurts.

I take short walks, or exercise in a jacuzzi, or spend time (only 15 minutes) on a recumbent bike, or vacuum my house. For me, that’s manageable and it works.

The truth is, I don’t naturally “take” to spiritual exercise either. But there’s no question it’s good for me.

There was a time I was content to sit back as a Christian and not “work out” the salvation (Philippians 2:12) the Lord was “working in.”

I reasoned,

“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I was good at accepting the first part—allowing God to do His sanctifying work in me—but the second part was tough! I really didn’t have the desire for spiritual disciplines, and frankly, I didn’t think too much about doing things for God’s “good pleasure.”

In Philippians 2:12, Paul told the Philippian Church, “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

What was Paul saying?

We’re to keep on doing what we did at the beginning, when we first trusted Christ. We’re to fear God (reverence Him) and know the Lord is evaluating our behavior.

There are some who say we’re not to work at all at becoming more Christ-like, but that’s not what scripture teaches. It might be natural for us to sin, but on the other hand, a child of God is called to respond to grace.

Remember what it was like when you first met the Lord? Remember the fire in your heart to show the Lord how much you loved Him because of His great sacrifice for you?

  • You couldn’t pray enough.
  • You couldn’t read the Bible enough.
  • Your heart poured out praise and worship.
  • You couldn’t wait to obey God.

Until you got busy with other things… distracted by lesser affections. And then, the prayer, Bible study, worshipful gratitude and responsive obedience just seemed like too much work!

But Paul was saying, “redouble your efforts!”

“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God,” it says in The Message. “That energy is God’s energy, and energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”

God rescues us, and then He works in us and gives us the energy to work at what will please Him!

Verses 14-16 give us a glimpse of what can happen if we follow God and work for Him. We will shine out like beacon lights in a dark and corrupt world! (v. 15) We will model the life-changing power of the Word of Life.

In verse 16, Paul essentially told the believers, “You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.”

Wow!

If I “redouble my efforts” to practice the spiritual disciplines, it’s going to be obvious to the world, and it’s going to bless others who have poured their time and energy into helping me grow too!

Our salvation is not of works, but that doesn’t mean we get lazy in pursuing the Lord once we know Him. As my Grandpa Parks used to day, “Don’t sit around like a bump on a pickle.”

Some might need the admonition, “Take time to rest,” but others need a “Get busy!”

In fact, Redouble Your Efforts!

* from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3980, 10-30-13

** OK, I borrowed that from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3981, 10-31-13

~ Dawn

Fragrance or Stink: What Do You Smell Like?

1 Oct

A woman, trying to control her dry hair, treated her scalp with olive oil before washing it. But then, worried the oil might oliveoil_margenauer_pixabaylinger, she washed her hair several times.

That night, as she went to bed, she leaned over to her husband and asked, “Do I smell like olive oil?”

“No,” he said, sniffing her.

“Do I smell like Popeye?” *

I once read that if you lick your wrist and wait 10 seconds, and then smell your wrist… that’s what your breath smells like!

Is that true? Oh wait … Yikes!

There are sweet smells and offensive smells, right?

  • The smell of a newborn baby (minus a soiled diaper).
  • The smell of old books.
  • The smell of exotic perfume.
  • The smell of a bakery.
  • The smell of a wet dog.
  • The smell of honeysuckle vines.
  • The smell of an angry skunk.

But the smell I’m considering today is the aroma that lingers from my attitudes. 

Even if you are not aware of it, you are leaving behind a fragrance wherever you go.

Encouraging, godly attitudes will bless others, but when our attitudes “stink,” it will affect everyone around us in negative ways.

Although sin grievously affects us personally, we don’t sin unto ourselves—others are affected. Our “stink” can rub off on others! One example is the stinky attitude that comes from an unforgiving, bitter attitude that “defiles many” (Hebrews 12:15).

The story is told of an old homeless man, taken in by a God-fearing couple who wanted to help him. They took him home where he showered and cleaned up. But then he put on his old, dirty, stinky clothes! He didn’t realize the loving couple had laid out fresh, clean clothes for him.

This is what we Christians do sometimes. We are “washed” by the Lord when He rescues us and makes us His own (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26) and God wraps us in a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10); but then we keep righteousrobe_stinkygarments_lolwithgodputting old “stinky” garments over that robe!

Our hearts are changed, but we still resort to stinky thinking patterns that lead to stinky actions.

When tempted to put on those stinky attitudes, we need to lay them down and pick up the attitudes the Holy Spirit has “laid out” for us.

What are these attitudes?

Sweet-smelling attitudes arise from the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). They include behavior that shows we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4-7).

And our thoughts help us focus on these attitudes. We need thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We need to think these kinds of things and practice sweet-smelling habits that flow from those thoughts.

We all sin. Every day. If we say we don’t, we’re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). But that doesn’t mean we cozy down with our sins. We should hate our sin as God does, and confess it to Him in repentance (1 John 1:9) so we can move forward in His grace to thoughts, words and behaviors that please Him (Ephesians 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 12:1-2).

We need a “daily washing” to make sure the aroma of Christ is what lingers, wherever we go and in every situation;

“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15, Amp).

King David, after committing terrible sin, cried out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity [wickedness], and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:2). In essence, David was saying, “Scrub me clean. Soak out my sinful attitudes and actions, and let me be pure again.”

Determine that your aroma will be the fragrance of Christ, not the stink of sin!

How can you know what “aroma” emanates from YOUR life? By others’ reactions and responses? Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit? From the Word of God?

from * Adapted from The Cybersalt Digest, Issue #4177, 9-1-16

~ Dawn

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