Also known as sin.
Recently in a lady’s Bible study, I tried to comment on a particular topic. What I tried to say was relevant to the topic being discussed, but what I said came out all wrong.
I did not carefully consider my words. I did not plan what I was going to say. I did not consider who else was in the room. I should have.
It really only takes a few moments to carefully consider my words, yet I didn’t take the time because I didn’t believe I need to do so. (Note to self: you always need to carefully consider your words.)
I offended a couple of gals. I’m not talking about “snowflakes” who need a “safe place.” These are beautiful, young women who are seeking God. What I said was offensive and hurtful to them.
I had a point. My point was valid and on topic. But I used a wrong example. My example is part of what caused the problem. My example hit a hurt place in these young women. Had I taken a few moments to considering my words, I might not have hurt someone.
I could have chosen a different example. Or made my point and let them think of their own example. Better yet, I could have stayed silent and realized they don’t need me to teach them anything because I’m not the leader of this study nor am I their Holy Spirit. And because they are smart, godly women. In this case less would definitely have been more.
You may be thinking, “So you misspoke. You said something stupid. You made a mistake. That’s not sin!”
If I had simply misspoken, I could say it was mistake. But no, this was not a mistake. It was sin. Here’s why: God looks at our heart.
My heart was ugly that day. I sinned.
You see, my sin was not just what I said. I could have said the perfect thing and it still would have been sin; my heart was wrong and that’s what made my words sin.
I was trying to teach them something with my comments, not because I love these women and cared for them, but because I saw myself as smarter, wiser, and better equipped to share truth. I wanted to teach them truth, not in love, but out of arrogance. And when I do that, I hurt people.
When I am arrogant, I sin. Even if I stay home and don’t say a word to another human being, arrogance is sin.
The Holy Spirit has been showing me the ugly parts of my self lately. And I have some very ugly parts. He loves me and wants to teach me to walk in His ways. God is working to conform me to the image of His Son. This conformation process is painful.
He is gentle. He let me mess up a few times and gently showed me my sin. But I didn’t listen; I didn’t take it to heart. I didn’t confess my sin and repent. I didn’t think it was big deal. Instead I thought, “I messed up. No big deal. I’ll do better next time,” But I didn’t do better; I got hard-hearted and more arrogant.
There are things I should have done:
- I should have confessed my sin to God and to Ron or a sister in Christ.
- I should have called it sin instead of a mistake.
- I should not have blown it off; I should have spent time in seeking God’s view on the issue.
- I should have made ammends the first time I spoke weeks ago when my heart first took a turn towards arrogance (again) and began to harden. (Yes, I’ve dealt with this before. I mean the first instance this time.)
- I should have gone back and meditated on relevant scriptures.
I know what to do to humble myself. I simply chose to ignore the Holy Spirit and chose not to humble myself.
Yep. I sinned.
I keep reading where Jesus talks of loving one another. In many books and studies as well as in different situations I have seen and heard the passages regarding loving one another the past couple of months. As if there is a message for me in these passages.
The Holy Spirit seems to be good at this – arranging for a topic to come up again and again in many places to help me get His point. I’m sorry I didn’t listen earlier. I regret that I hardened my heart to His voice. I regret than chose sin.
You see, it’s not enough that I love God – I must keep His commandments and love His family. If I don’t do these two things, do I really love God??
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) just a few chapters later He said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
My actions that day in the women’s study were not out of love for these women but out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Not on purpose or with evil intent. Sin comes naturally; we have to choose to walk in the Way of the Spirit. We have to choose to be Holy as He is holy. We have to choose humility, kindness, and love. I did not choose those things so I naturally and without thinking tried to show them all how smart I am. I was not being wise. Or loving. Or kind.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
James 3:14-17 | ESV
I know better. I know what it looks like when I share out of humility and love for the women in the group. I have done that well in the past. I know what I am supposed to do. And I did not do it this time. I have not been loving people; I have been judging them as less than me. I know what good to do but didn’t do it.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:17 | NIV
I was not considering others more important than myself. I was acting out of arrogance and vane conceit. I was acting out of my natural self rather than being led by the Spirit. I was not acting out of humility or compassion.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 | NIV
So, what do I do now? Where do I go from here?
I know what I want to do: I want to become a hermit. I want to isolate. I’m embarrassed by my behavior. I want to stay home and mow my property, play with my dogs, and read good books. Alone. Without talking to anyone. It’s seems easier to not mess up, to not sin if I isolate.
But isolation from the Body is in itself sin!
Isolation is not what God called me to do. He called me to be part of His family, to love His family…my family now. If I am His child through the blood of Christ then other believers are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am part of the family. I must learn to love my brothers and sisters and be an active, loving part of the family.
So I must repent. I must confess my sin. I must make amends to the head of the Bible study and to the women I offended.
And I step back for a little while. I step back and learn to walk in humility. I take a backseat. I take time to seek God and to pray. I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me how to love people without completely isolating myself.
I can’t learn to love His family by isolating. I learn to love them by doing it. And when I mess up – when I sin – I confess it and ask forgiveness.
I’ll be spending time in prayer and confession. I’ll be working on being kind and compassionate. I’ll be working on listening to others and loving them.
And I’ll mess up. I’ll sin again. Then I’ll work on making amends and confession again.
So if you see me out and about and see me not acting in love, will you give me some grace and maybe a reminder. I’m working on me. Or rather, the Holy Spirit is working on me and I’m learning to submit to His teachings.
Be blessed my friends.