Colossians 3:5 My Will vs. Thy Will- Get Rid of What is Not of God

14 03 2013

Hieronymus_Bosch_Seven_Deadly_Sins

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).” Colossians 3:5 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

What worldly passions do you struggle with the most? What needs to happen for you to have a victory over those passions?

“Sin” isn’t a very politically correct word.  Heaven forbid that we tell ourselves that something we’re doing is bad or wrong- or only that it’s bad or wrong because it’s out of context or to excess.  Criticism might hurt our little self-esteem.  Unfortunately there are times the word “sin” is exactly the word we need to hear, and we need to take the admonition of Scripture when it comes to correcting our behavior, even when it’s not politically correct or “nice” to point out the ways in which our behavior falls short of the glory of God.

The apostle Paul didn’t exactly come up with the same Seven Deadly Sins we know today.  But as a fan of Dante’s Divine Comedy, I see the Seven Deadly Sins as being helpful in understanding human nature, and the nature of sin, and for examining my own sin.

The most comprehensive list of noteworthy sins that the Apostle Paul enumerated can be found in Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy,drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NRSV)”    The Apostle Paul wasn’t one to either be politically correct, or to mince words.

seven deadly sins

The current Seven Deadly Sins list actually goes back to Pope Gregory I, who was working from an earlier list of sins – “Eight Evil Thoughts,” written by Evagrius Ponticus back in the 4th century.

While the specifics of fleshly lusts to avoid are different in both the Colossians and the Galatians text, and the Apostle Paul does not specifically mention pride, he does mention idolatry, which is a form of pride.

Pride is the root of all sin, and it was the heart of the original sin of the Garden.  The serpent promised Eve that she would be as God.  That desire to take the place of God, is the definition of pride, and is idolatry. At the center of the heart of human sin is one primal and fatal desire that says: “I want my will, even when it is contrary to God’s will.  I want to be in the place of God.”

I’m guilty of idolatry when I put anything I want, anyone, or anything above God.  I’m guilty of the sin of pride when I assume my way of doing things is the best way.  I’m guilty of the sin of pride when I think that somehow I am above judgment when I indulge my lusts even when I know that what I want is wrong.

beanie babies

No, I am not into Beanie Babies, but I can’t think of any logical or sane reason to have this many of them.

I may not have 1000 Beanie Babies cluttering up my shelves, but I am guilty of the sin of greed when I stock up on things I may not really need because I am afraid of running out, or that I might miss out on something “everyone else” already has.  I know full well nobody on earth needs 50+ pairs of shoes- but I have them nonetheless.  Having too much stuff is a problem for me.  It comes from growing up poor and always being worried about not having enough food or appropriate clothing or other essential needs, but what makes the acquisition and stockpiling of stuff wrong is that it demonstrates my lack of faith in God’s provision.  Jesus said He would provide for my needs and I shouldn’t be obsessed with the overwhelming need for anything.

(Jesus said:) “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33 (NRSV)”

at The Sixth Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball. The Home of Susan Harris and Hayward Kaiser, Mandeville Canyon, CA. 06-02-07

Didya think I would show a pic of a chick when I’m talking about lust?

I am guilty of the sin of lust when I am consumed with desire for something- or someone. (No, I don’t lust after Charlie Sheen- any more!)  Lust is not as huge of a problem as it was for me at one time, and I’m very thankful for that.  As someone who was married and lived many years involuntarily celibate before my husband died, lust has been a huge temptation.  It is only by the grace of God that He has kept me from making unwise choices that might seem exciting and fun at the time, but that I know I would regret later.  I’ve been down that path in the past, and it leads to nothing but guilt and shame.  By the grace of God, I don’t want to go there ever again.

In all seriousness, I’m a work in progress.  I know I need to go through my stuff and get rid of those things I really don’t need.  I have issues with the acquisition of stuff and I am bound up in the tyranny of stuff.  I need to get rid of a lot of stuff. I don’t need to stock up on every single item that goes on sale even when I have the means to do so. I struggle with scarcity mentality every day and it’s difficult for me to trust God for daily bread instead of wanting to stockpile for months and years to come. When I’m struggling to pay for scripts and bills it’s really hard to trust that God will provide even though I know He does, and He will.





Vanity and Knowledge vs. Innocence and Humility

13 03 2013

king-solomon-800px-sheba_demin

 

“I, the Teacher,when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

 What is crooked cannot be made straight,  and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’ And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 (NRSV)

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“He (Jesus) called a child, whom he put among them,  and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4 (NRSV)

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  At first it seems rather depressing and despondent, but I can see and feel where Solomon’s coming from.  When I was growing up my family always had high standards, and the pursuit of education was especially prized.  Failure and mediocrity were not tolerated.
Because I had unusual gifts, my parents placed higher expectations on me (at least academically) than on my older sisters.  I didn’t always appreciate the dog-and-pony show that accompanied my precocious reading ability- “Oh, show Mrs. so-and-so how well you read the dictionary!,” got old very quickly.   I got tired of hearing how I should help my sisters (the same ones who would beat me up and take my stuff the minute there were no adults around) with their homework because they struggled with spelling and writing.
I got noblesse oblige and self denial pounded into my head as a child, and I didn’t like it.  I felt as if I were expected to show up on stage 24/7, give what I didn’t have, and then give some more.  I did, too, partially out of fear of my parents’ wrath, and partially out of the fear of hellfire, because not fully utilizing one’s gifts was a Grave Sin.  I kept up that impossible pace until my early 30’s when my physical health crashed.  Me- the unwilling, doing the impossible for the ungrateful.
innocent-child
This is how “normal” kids see the world.
terrortrex
This is how I saw the world when I was a kid.
Nobody understood how completely terrified I was of virtually everything- especially of being deemed inadequate and unworthy.  I spent my entire childhood being the geeky little nearsighted poor kid with the bad clothes who everyone used as a punching bag.  I was bound determined not to spend my adult life being the rest of the world’s doormat and sick joke.  But behind my carefully cultivated professional façade of impenetrability and capability, the little geeky kid was looking around the corner for the next beating. Nobody understood that my mind is always going a million miles an hour and that it drains every ounce of energy I have when I am around people- just to filter out the noise around me.  I don’t read body language well at all, and what comes naturally and subconsciously for most people is an acquired and conscious skill for me.  I can interpret and (usually) send the proper non-verbal signals when I interact with other people, but it is an energy draining and somewhat “artificial” process.
I have, and can acquire the necessary technical knowledge I need to function, but I am a poor navigator when it comes to relationships and the complexities of dealing with other people.
IgnoranceIsBliss
I don’t know what “normal” is.  I know that I’m not normal and most of the rest of the world is. One thing that I wish that people would understand about “abnormal” people like me is that usually when a person is given an exemplary gift in one area, that person is likely to have a profound deficit in another.  I am more than aware of my deficits, and they are limiting and severe.  I may know a lot of things, yes, but in my knowledge I know all too well just how inadequate and unworthy I am.
Some of the happiest people in the world are small children and those with cognitive deficiencies, which is telling. They haven’t been burnt enough by the world and the malice of others to become cynical and jaded and wary.  Ignorance may just be bliss in certain circumstances.
dejavu
The quest for the knowledge of good and evil led humanity to the first sin: wanting to be as God. (see Genesis 3)  The problem with that is that humanity, while made in the image of God, is not God.  We are finite and limited both in our physical presence and in the knowledge we my attain.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 (NRSV)

I can’t help but to think of all my atheist and agnostic friends who say things to me such as, “Don’t you know anything about science?  Why do you believe creation stories that involve some guy in the sky and a chick and a dude and a snake?”

God, I trust.  The Bible, I trust.  Science is valuable but…the only problem I have with putting faith in science is that our knowledge is limited and fallible.  Science does not have all the answers, and sometimes what is taken as scientific fact today is disproven tomorrow.

One has to have a lot of faith to believe that something arose from nothing for no reason at all.  I don’t see how creation was possible without some sort of sentient Force or Designer behind it.  For me it is far less a leap of faith to believe in a Creator God than in random chance.

Faith is a gift of God. It is purely of God to be able to surrender to Jesus and follow Him, especially when the rest of the world thinks you’re touched in the head for doing so.