Thursday, April 05, 2007

An exhortation I needed to read...

...and one that was of great encouragement. Every believer, whether honest with others or not, struggles with besetting sin(s).
During a recent browse of the blogs, I came across an entry written by Carolyn McCulley which compelled me to stop everything I was doing and reflect on the "shadow-boxing" I tend to exhaust myself with on a regular basis when it comes to familiar, recurring sins. McCulley's reflection is very appropriately entitled "Shadow Boxing with Sin and Laziness," and I hope you are just as encouraged (and maybe even put in your place, if necessary) as I have been...

Every accountability group has one--that person who is always bringing up
the same issue time and time again without much progress. In my small group, I'm
that person. But I bet if you asked a few other people in that same group, they
would say they are that person.
We all are, in fact. Change is not easy.
Some patterns in our lives are seemingly corrected overnight. Others have deep
roots, which appear to be connected to far more issues than we would have
initially discerned. So we dig, to see if we can get at those roots. Or maybe we
are just digging ourselves deeper into familiar ruts of sin and temptation.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Last week, in my caregroup's
women's meeting, we talked about those areas of chronic defeat.
We could have
come up with another "plan for success" drawn on human wisdom, but instead we
looked at how we fell short of asking God for help. Each of us realized that
with some of these long-standing temptations, we weren't even pausing to do
battle. We would see or experience the temptation and just fall down. We
wouldn't even try to resist.
Oh, sure, in the past we had sought counsel or
enrolled in courses or read the leading books on whatever we wanted to change,
but right now we weren't availing ourselves of the mightest weapon in our
arsenal: the grace of God. Whether the temptation was another cookie, another
hour of watching TV, or another angry response, we were giving in and finding
ourselves deeper in the well-worn ruts. So we decided that for the next two
weeks, we would simply concentrate on resisting temptation by asking God to help
us to change. . .

"Do you not know that in a race
all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may
obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to
receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly;
I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under
control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1
Corin 9:24ff). . .

What this looks like can vary a bit from person to
person, but this passage teaches us three important things: 1) We must live
purposefully, 2) We must live humbly ("
Humility demands we examine the idol
feasts in our lives.
"), 3) We must live dependently.

He promises to give
grace, to give an avenue of escape, and to give the power to endure so that the
temptation will not overwhelm us.
If we don't depend on His faithfulness in these
areas, we will give up
. . . This passage provides such sweet hope to us
shadow-boxers, doesn't it? For all those areas in our lives where we are only
making half-hearted efforts to grow and change, where we are beating the air and
running aimlessly, there is a way of escape and the power to truly change!

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