Thursday, October 21, 2010

Respectable Sins: Chapters 12-14 "Selfishness", "Lack of Self Control" and "Impatience and Irritability"

I’ve grouped these chapters together because they’re the ugly sins that arise when we believe that “It’s All About Me!”.

By now I’m guessing we’re all very aware that “Respectable Sins” is not an easy read. It’s very alarming, sobering and confronting to be reflecting on our sinfulness, in the light of God’s holiness and the cross of Christ.

So in this post, rather than reflect on what Bridges has to say, I’d just highlight some of his comments I found helpful and raise a few questions I’m thinking through.

I found it helpful to be alerted to the subtlety with which selfishness can shows itself in our lives – selfishness with
our interests,
with our time,
with our money,
and through being inconsiderate.

I wonder if we can also be selfish with our homes? Many Australian Christians have wonderfully spacious and well equipped homes that provide great opportunities for hospitality. I do appreciate that for some of us our family situation may limit our ability to show hospitality (chronic illness, unbelieving spouse, parents or children, child protection concerns) but I also think we may have developed a selfish mentality of “my home is my castle” and we keep the drawbridge up, rarely inviting others, Christians or unbelievers, for meals. We can be reluctant to commit to hosting a Bible study in our home, unwilling to host a member of visiting mission team, or invite singles to share a meal with us in our home on a regular basis. We much prefer to meet with people in cafes, restaurants or in the church buildings, and so we miss the wonderful opportunity to model Christian home life in action and to possibly talk more deeply with people in the privacy of the home.

“The greatest example of unselfishness is the Lord Jesus Christ, who though He was rich, for our sake became poor so that by His poverty we might become rich. (2Cor8) (p106)

How do we discern the difference between selfishness with our time, money or homes, and protecting my, or my family’s welfare?

Lack of Self Control
“A person without self-control is vulnerable to all kinds of temptations” (p109)
And because we tolerate this (lack of self control), we become vulnerable to other “respectable sins”…sarcasm, gossip, slander and ridicule.” (p110)

Bridges suggests we consider our self control in the areas of eating and drinking, temper, personal finances, and what we view – on screens and in books and magazines.

“Are their desires, cravings, or emotions that may be out of control to some degree? (p114)

“Teach the older men to be…self-controlled…teach the older women not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine… then they can train the younger women…to be self-controlled… similarly encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:2,5,6)

Impatience and Irritability
I like the way Bridges keeps reminding us that so many of the respectable sins we tolerate are inconsistent with the fruit of God’s Spirit in the believers life and so must not be tolerated in our lives. They may be acceptabel to us, but they are not acceptable to God – and that matters!

I like the comment that sometimes the impatience of another may be God’s way of growing patience in me! (p119)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness , kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal5:22-23)

And as we read on in Galatians (5:24-26) we’re reminded of how we deal with each of our respectable sins. And it’s got nothing to do with trying harder or beating ourselves up. And ignoring, excusing or minimising these subtle sins won’t rid our lives of them – that’s just mind games! We cultivate unselfishness, self-control and patience by remembering that

“those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”.

It’s all about having crucified our sinful nature, with Christ in his death. And now,

“since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit”.

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