2015-03-11 / Religion

‘How Much Is Too Much?’

Inspiration
(Pastor James Scarborough, Donalsonville Assembly of God)

After going out to the garden early this morning and picking one more mess of turnips before I plow them up to make room for spring planting, I headed to the store. My plan was to get some meat to put in the smoker, but when I got there and saw all the enticingly displayed packages of meat, my cooking plans started to grow. I had enough discipline to pass on the pig tails, but the neck bones won out! I am glad that Dr. Brand did not show up at that time to see what was on my menu for supper, but I think even he would agree that neck bones and turnips are harmless every once in a while. At least, that is the justification I used. Nevertheless, that big pot of turnips, roots, and neck bones is almost done cooking by now, so I might as well enjoy them!

Like most Americans, my eating choices could use some improvements for the sake of health, but indulging in an occasional unhealthy meal probably will not do irreparable damage (this is my opinion, though, and not nutritional advice). Unfortunately, if we are not careful, we will begin to carry that mentality into our spiritual thinking by convincing ourselves that a little sinful behavior here and yonder is all right in the sight of God. But His Word indicates something quite different, for He instructs us to live holy lives that are unblemished by the ways of the sinful world system. These words recorded in 1 Peter speak plainly on how God expects His people to live: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy”” (1:14-16, New International Version). Thankfully, as 1 John 1:9 tells us, there is hope when we fail in our spiritual walk: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

As I conversed with a pastor friend and fellow hospice chaplain recently, we talked about how tragic it is when God’s people ignore the importance of avoiding sin. In that discussion he brought up what he had heard a prominent minister say in that regard — that the trend among far too many Christians today is not a desire to live righteously, but instead, they succumb to the dangerous delusion that seeks to discover how much sin they can get away with and still remain in right standing with God. That way of thinking and living is not only dangerous, but negates something that should be of extreme importance to every child of God: the sincere and passionate desire to love and please God.

As we continue the journey through this season of Lent, making our way toward Easter, it is an excellent time to recall the price that Christ paid for our forgiveness and to make a fresh commitment to live every day in a manner that honors Him.

Regardless of whether or not it is true that a few neck bones occasionally are not so bad for the body, it is true that even a little deliberate sin can do a lot of damage spiritually. So rather than seeing how much sin we can get away with, we are called, with God’s help, to strive to stay as far from sin as possible.

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