I Thought I was Walking with the Lord
In my mind, I had done everything right. I was living how I thought a good Christian was supposed to. I was supporting the ministry of my local church, signing up to volunteer and lend a helping hand wherever I was needed. I spent early mornings studying the Bible and praying. I even read a Christian devotional at night before bed. I thought I was living well enough, understood what be ye holy meant – but God had something different in mind.
One morning, as I was spending time in the word, I came across a verse in Lamentations that stopped me in my tracks. It was Lamentations 3:40. When I read the verse, it made me pause – what did my way have to do with returning to the Lord?
The simple instruction in that verse cropped up in my mind multiple times over the next few days. As I washed the dishes, I remembered, “Examine your way.” While I was driving to the office the words echoed, “Return to the Lord.” Though I tried, I could not get away from these words. For my own peace of mind, I had to surrender and pray this simple prayer, “Lord help me to see me.”
God answers prayer – and He answers quickly! As the day unfolded, my spiritual state became clear.
I soon found out that I had left God and I didn’t even notice.
Be Ye Holy: My Way vs. God’s Way
As I initiated my self-check, I was snacking on one of my favorite treats – Mrs. Fields Miniature Chocolate Chip Cookies. I told myself that I’d only enjoy a couple, but the sweet goodness of the chocolate coupled with the crunch of the walnuts enthralled me. I had eaten one soft treat, then another. By the time I was done, I had eaten ten. Yep, you read it right, 10 cookies! (Insert sad, embarrassed face here)
My Way #1 – Lack of self-control
Around the same time, I received a phone call from my husband. He asked a direct question and I answered.
Although I conveyed the information he requested, I left out an important point in an attempt to cover my whereabouts. See, I was out shopping at the mall when I was supposed to be working at home.
My Way #2 – Untruthfulness, deception
(also known as the ‘little white lie’ or alternative facts)
After ending the phone call, I remembered that I needed to go to the bank. Before backing out of the parking space at the mall, I did a quick check of my blind spot. All clear. Just as I put my car in reverse, a large SUV whizzed behind me, barely missing my car’s rear bumper! When I slammed on the brakes, a few red-letter-edition words crossed my mind (you know the ones). I didn’t actually say them, but they almost slipped out.
My Way #3 – Cursing, profane communication or thoughts
When I entered the bank lobby, I noticed a woman who looked like she was having a difficult day. We exchanged pleasantries and at that moment I felt like I should share an encouraging word with her. Since I was in a hurry, I told myself I’d do it after I finished my transaction.
As I was filling out my deposit slip with the teller, I immediately noticed and commented on how well her ink pen functioned. The barrel of the pen had a nice weight and the ink flowed onto the paper like a dream. The ink pen lover in me was excited!
I finished up my banking business and returned to my car. As I was leaving the parking lot, I noticed the ink pen near my wallet on the passenger seat of my car. Not only had I forgotten to encourage the woman at the bank, I had kept the bank teller’s ink pen!
My Way #4 and #5 – Delayed obedience to the Holy Spirit, stealing
I was having a record day! In less than 2 hours, I had lied, almost cursed, stolen, disobeyed God, and had severely overeaten.
The Separating Power of Sin
1 Peter 1:15 calls for holiness in all that we do. All means everything; everything means without exception.
After I prayed, “Lord, show me myself”, the Holy Spirit helped me to recognize that the little things I dismiss as nothing were a pretty big deal to God. Simply put, sin disconnects us from God.
I had walked away from God and was deceived by the enemy thinking that I was okay.
In times past, I would have brushed these things off as no big deal. I didn’t think twice about these behaviors because I was operating by my own standards. I was living a life of good enough.
News flash: Good enough is not enough!
God’s standard for His people is holiness. Point blank. Period (1 Peter 1:16, Leviticus 11:44, 1 Thess 4:7).
So, what’s the Play Call?
God is calling for all of us to examine our way and return to Him (Lamentations 3:40).
Here are 5 things we must do as we return to the Lord:
Lying is a deliberate effort to deceive. The enemy would trick us into thinking that since no one is getting hurt, there is no harm done by being untruthful. Proverbs 6:16-19 reminds us that God detests lying. He hates it so much that it is mentioned twice in these verses – first as a lying tongue, second as a false witness.
If this is something that God absolutely cannot stand, why would we rationalize and dismiss it? Revelation 21:8 says “all liars will have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” The word all leaves no liar out, that includes us, Team.
Taking things that do not belong to you is stealing – plain and simple. This is an elementary lesson that we all should have learned at age 4 but somehow we have ignored it. If you didn’t pay for it, or it was not given/gifted to you then it is NOT yours. How can this uncomplicated lesson apply to 4-year-olds, but not to us, Team?
God does not deal with this sin casually. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 reminds us that thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God. This also goes for theft at work. It doesn’t matter how many overtime hours you’ve worked, or how many years you’ve been on the job. God clearly sees what goes on at your workplace! Would you risk your salvation over a sticky notepad or a postage stamp? What about a yellow highlighter, or that blue sharpie?
Stealing time at work also counts, too. You are being paid to perform a job; if you are not on task and using your work time irresponsibly, then you are an embezzler. Think extensive chit-chat with co-workers. Think Internet shopping when you should be working. Do you come in late and leave early? You get the picture.
As Team Jesus, our words should be used to build others up (Ephesians 4:29).
When we stand before God, we will have to give an account for every word that comes out of our mouth. Wisdom says that we should carefully guard what we say (Matthew 12:35-36).
Even if the words never come out of your mouth, and you think evil against someone, this is cause for repentance. Those curse words you dismiss as harmless (yes, those words) STOP IT!
God’s requirement for His people is holiness in speech and in conduct. In 1 Peter 1:16, God instructs us to be ye holy because He is holy. God would not ask us to do something and not give us the tools and the ability to get it done. Being holy is done through Him and through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as we submit ourselves to Him.
Delayed obedience is instant disobedience. Failure to immediately act on promptings of the Holy Spirit is disobedience to God. An example of a prompting could be suddenly feeling the need to encourage or reach out to someone. By nature, we are self-absorbed, thinking about ourselves 99.9% of the time. We are not good in and of ourselves – Romans 7:18 reminds us that in our flesh, there is no good thing. The good thoughts that cross your mind to do something nice for someone is not all you. See it as God’s attempt to work through you.
If you find yourself suddenly motivated, empowered, or energized to do something for someone else – do it! It could be a quick phone call, an encouraging text, or sending a card in the mail. Dismiss it and you miss the opportunity to be used by God in His perfect timing to bless someone through your obedience. Allow God to love someone through you. Be His hands to bless them in a real, tangible way. By putting it off, you forfeit the opportunity to be used by God. Knowing to do good and not doing it is sin (James 4:17).
Stop Being Greedy
Don’t take your good health for granted! Romans 12:1 reminds us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. This means that we will have to give up something. Get the victory in self-control by saying no to Ben & Jerry, Papa John and every other company that wishes to indulge your flesh in an unhealthy way. Don’t eat that extra cookie (or ten)! Take the time and be mindful of what you are putting into your body and honor God with your body. Walking with God and fulfilling what God has called you to do will require you to have the strength and health of your body. You can’t walk very far if you’re unhealthy and out of shape.
Even if these specific things are not your issues, 1 John 1:8 reminds us that we all have something in our lives that we need to fix.
Let the self-examinations begin!