“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” John Owen, Mortification of Sin
Are you actively seeking out the sins in your life or are you merely working around the weeds in your flower bed as you attempt to cultivate a beautiful crop? God will reveal your sin to you. Somewhere, at any moment He will tear off the flesh covering your blind eyes and expose your heart for what it really is. He doesn’t just do this once at conversion. Oh, no. Our pride, our sin, our flesh keeps going back to sin like a dog to his vomit. God, in His infinite mercy, never leaves His chosen ones. He is faithful when we are wandering blindly in a sin we are ignorant to. When he strips us down and we see that sin, it hurts deep. This happened to me. Sunday I was humbled and embarrassed and ashamed and broken over a sin that the Lord revealed to me during a class on evangelism. It was unexpected yet it was so liberating.
My immediate thoughts were: “I’m a hypocrite.”
- a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
- a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his other public statements.
My sin was a complete lack of joy for weeks and an attitude of grumbling. Yet, during all these weeks I had reprimanded my children to be joyful and not to complain and had even counseled friends in this way. I was being a hypocrite.You might say I’m being too harsh on myself. After all, no one is joyful all the time…
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, emphasis mine)
Clearly the command is to rejoice always. In all circumstances.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)
Again, the command seems pretty black and white: No grumbling. Ever.
Shouldn’t I have noticed that I wasn’t being joyful or that I was complaining often?
I did, sort of. I knew I didn’t feel right and that my fuse had been short. But I was missing the big neon sign blinking, “JOYLESS.”
I was trying to patch a hole without a needle and thread.
I thought it was a lack of someone to ‘confide in’ or maybe it was that I was lacking a routine. I even considered that I was just reading the wrong books in the Bible (Jeremiah and Ezekiel can get a little bleak at times). Now that the Lord had opened my heart and eyes to the sin in my life what was I to do? Repent!
I poured my heart out to the One who saved my wretched soul fifteen years ago, and the One who daily forgives me of my sins. I admitted my sin and turned away from it. But, sadly, God wasn’t the only one I had sinned against. We’ve all accepted that God is loving and kind and will forgive us, but we don’t have that same assurance with the people in our lives. I had sinned against my family and two friends in particular that were on the receiving end of my ingratitude and complaints.
YIKES! What kind of witness and friend had I been?!
After asking my husband to forgive me I reached out to those two friends. The Lord spoke to me through His Word (that’s how He speaks to His children) in Colossians 3:12-14:
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
My friends had been showing me the first part and I clung to the hope that they would carry it out through forgiveness. Regardless of the other parties’ response we are still to seek forgiveness. My husband and friends did lovingly forgive me and for that I am grateful. Once God reveals your sin and you have repented, now you must move forward in a manner worthy of Christ. What does this look like?
Dodie Largent lays out five easy steps in her article, How to be Joyful in the Midst of Any Circumstance:
“Psalm 119:1-8 provided me a progression of steps that led me to a joyful heart:
Seek (v. 2) – “But seek first His kingdom…” (Mathew 6:33, NIV)
Learn (v. 7) – Learn what you seek
Keep (v. 2) – Keep what you learn
Walk (v. 3) – Walk in obedience to what you learn
Praise (v. 7) – Praise as you learn and walk therein”
Learn what you seek
This stood out to me. We aren’t to just read the Scriptures but we are to really learn what they mean. I realized that I need to grab a study Bible out of my husband’s office and keep it handy. Even if it’s a small explanation, I’m taking God’s Word and making it digestible for my comprehension. The daily struggle comes in the walking. I have to choose to be joyful and give thanks. Sadly, I know I have not fully conquered this sin for it seems as I look back through my walk with Christ it is all too easy for me to slip into this mindset. That is why it is so important that every day I seek and learn. What have you found to be the best way to learn what the Bible means? Sermon podcasts? Weekly Bible studies? Commentaries? I’d love to hear what helps you most!