Is your house in order?
"I hope my parents die before I do!" Startling words from someone who did not want their mum and dad to find out what they had done much earlier in life. Others, no doubt, feel the same way concerning their parents, or spouses, or their children.
Do you have a similar concern?
Not only does the sadness and grief arising from exposed sin hurt us, it also hurts and damages those who know us and love us. The capacity for self-deception and self-denial is staggering. Almost daily we are confronted by the pain and disappointment generated by another set of unsavoury or hurtful revelations concerning a Christian brother or sister.
Did they not know what they were doing? Could they not be aware of the duplicity of their actions? What were they omitting from their lives that enabled them to continue in the sinful behaviour which they appeared to enjoy? How clearly had they understood repentance?
What of God? Did they think that he would be too busy to notice or was his forgiveness and grace just presumed? It's easy to see the inconsistency and hypocrisy in others.
Remember David's words in Psalm 51 and how he realised that his sin was against God. The hurt that God experiences, and the offense accompanying it, is enormous. Have we thought of this as we deliberately live our duplicitous lives?
So what sin am I hiding? What act of duplicity am I perpetrating even as I see the foolishness of others? There are other words of Scripture that should stir me such as Psalm 66:18,
"If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened."
There are people who have spoken for Jesus and urge others to believe while "cherishing' sin in their heart. It is one thing to be well trained and highly motivated in evangelism. It is another thing entirely to be so with an honest heart and godly motivation.
Jealousy, envy, idolatry, covetousness, laziness, prayerlessness " can be ignored or excused by Christian friends. Non-Christians can see such characteristics clearly and are repelled by our inconsistent actions.
Take Jesus on a walk through the hallways and rooms of your mind. Open your deep longings to Jesus' scrutiny. Is my house in order? Has the Pharisaic sin of urging one thing and doing another become a pattern in my life?
The famous puritan, John Owen, said he read the Bible so that he could obey God all the better. This would be a good place to start. In it we may read words like those in Psalm 139:23-24,
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"
It may lead to deep confession with tears " but it may also mean that I commend Jesus with a clear conscience. How are you tracking in the Christian life? Is your house in order?
Jim Ramsay is the CEO of Evangelism Ministries, the outreach arm of the Sydney Diocese. Click here to visit the Evangelism Ministries web site.