Thursday, May 30, 2013
Ingredient #9 - Holiness (Love - Part 11)
"...does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth..."
I Corinthians 13:6
"Did you hear what happened to ______________?"
"It's about time - he deserved it!"
"Did you see that movie yet? They meet once a year for their whole life! It's so romantic!"
"He's the funniest comedian on TV - yeah, he can be off color, but it's hysterical!"
"I had no idea they were in so much debt! Shame on them!"
"I saw your friend at a restaurant last week and guess what? She wasn't with her husband!"
What do all these comments have in common? They all have a sense of rejoicing in sin - juicy gossip about other people's struggles, happiness when someone's sin catches up to them, movies that glorify sinful romantic relationships and laughing at base jokes.
What else do they have in common? Everyone reading this blog has been involved in discussions similar to these. Yes, I used a 100% word - everyone.
I named our next ingredient holiness because it clearly describes God - He finds nothing exciting about sin but delights in good, righteous truth. Sin was way too costly for God to find it funny or amusing - He does not revel in it, He does not delight in it - He will not even allow it in His presence. Sin and its consequences are not a laughing matter.
But in our flesh, we gravitate towards enjoying sin. Think about it - when's the last time you saw a movie and felt nauseated by the sinful display of premarital or adulterous sexual content? Have you seen a good, clean comedy lately? One that doesn't use cursing or swearing, sexual innuendos or lying and cheating to accomplish its goals? Even our superhero movies (which are harmless, right?) typically have some sort of selfish breakdown or illicit relationship during the movie, but we cheer them on and laugh at their crudeness and hope they get the girl in the end. But we watch the movie and we even recommend it to our friends, completely hardened to the sinful content.
We are surrounded by sin and the celebration of it - from our music to what we read to even our news channels. We want to see people fall, we want to hear bad things about others and we tend to adjust the curse words so that we can say them without feeling too bad. Not sure what I mean with that one? I'd love to write a list of phrases we all regularly use but my heart just won't let me put it in writing...
God tells us that love doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness - true love doesn't want to hear the bad things and cheer sin on, but rather it delights in truth. A great example of this was last Sunday when we had 60 people come forward for baptism. To hear the stories of how God had drawn these people into His embrace was truly something to rejoice about! Sitting in that auditorium nearly an hour after the service was to be over and hearing our people cheer after each baptism was truly a delight to my soul.
What was your response when you heard that a friend of yours was baptized? Did you roll your eyes and think, "Well, we'll see if that lasts..." or did you raise your hands in praise to God, praying for protection and strength for your friend as she grows in Christ? We can test our love levels by our response to life - what fires us up, what do we enjoy and what breaks our heart.
So why do we gravitate to the gossip and the sin? I think it's because it makes us feel better about ourselves. "I would never have done that!" is what we're saying when we share a bit of juicy gossip about our neighbor. But when we say that, we forget that our sin was bad enough to cause Jesus to die on the cross for it. True holiness is a righteousness magnet - it is drawn to the positive and repels the negative.
So in your relationships where God has called you to love - family, friends and even enemies - examine your response to gossip and sin. Do you enjoy to hear of the damaging effects of sin in someone's life, or does it break your heart? True love longs for righteousness in other's lives. If you have a spouse or an ex-spouse whom your heart is hardened against, God wants you to long for righteousness in their lives. He wants you to rejoice when good things happen to them - when they are blessed by the Lord or when they make decisions that are good, true and pure...it's hard to do because it's not in our natural nature to respond this way, but it is in Jesus' nature.
Remember, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live...yet not I, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20) We are able to delight in righteousness because it is Christ who lives in us and trust me, He LOVES righteousness!