What Happens When We Ignore The Warnings?
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
One day over coffee with a friend of mine, Jane, I found myself engrossed into our conversation. Jane was going on-and-on about the people who drive her crazy. She was referring to people whom she considers her “friends.” Some of these people I know personally. I was innocently sitting there laughing, which encouraged her to continue. Then one day the Lord spoke to me about that situation. He said; “you do know you were involved in sin, right?” Who? Me? Oh no Lord, you’re mistaken. I have a degree in Church Ministries. I’m in seminary. I attend church every week. I rise early every day to pray and study your Word. I honor and submit to my husband. I teach my children to study your Word. I teach Sunday school. I sit in my closet and pray. I fast once a week. I stop what I’m doing to pray for others. I bring meals to people in need – even if I do not know them. I volunteer in city outreach projects with my church. With all due respect my Lord, I’m certain you’re wrong. And the Lord said; “you do know you were involved in sin, right?”
There’s a tendency, as Christians, to forget how easy it is to fall back into sin. Although we have been freed from the bondage of sin, through salvation, let us not foolishly allow that freedom to trap us into sin again. Paul warns of this in Galatians 5:16 -18 “So I say to you, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Paul goes on in Galatians 5:19 to lists some of the behaviors we need to avoid.
When we are led by the Holy Spirit we are not likely to live in sin. Thus, when we rely on our own wisdom – we fall prey to sin. The fruit of the Spirit Paul says, in Galatians 5:22 are; love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I was sitting there laughing at Jane’s obvious misuse of words against people she considers her friends, how was I operating in the fruit of the Spirit? Why didn’t I say anything? She’s a Christian too. Why didn’t I stop her behavior? Do I not care that she’s jeopardizing her walk with Christ? It’s easier than you think to live in sin. We assume sin is obvious. In my case it wasn’t. I was sitting with a friend. It didn’t appear to be gossip. She didn’t say “oh guess what I heard”. But nonetheless, it was gossip. Maybe you’re not involved in gossip, but could there be something else you’ve swept under a rug?
It’s so unfortunate how we take God for granted. We take His Words for granted. We believe Him when He speaks of blessings in our lives, yet we ignore or think He doesn’t mean it when He says we must obey His Words. Paul was so passionate about God. He knew the deep penalty for sin, but on the other side of the coin, Paul knew the greater outcome living in obedience. We walk around as if we have it all together. We post Scripture online all day. We have no shame in our “holier than thou” behavior. Yet, we cannot see when a freight train is coming right at us. We ignore the warnings. We sit there while the lights are flashing. When God has given us enough chances, we act like we have no idea what happened. We are bewildered at the massive train’s direct impact. “What’s wrong with my life?”, we ask. “Why aren’t my prayers being answered?”
In 2 Corinthians Paul spends a lot of time defending his authority. The other teachers were trying to discredit him. They wondered what was so good about Paul? We speak God’s Word, they say. We’ve seen miracles too. Oh, but there was a vast difference between Paul and the other teachers. Paul suffered greatly for the kingdom of God. Acts 9:16 “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
I repented of my sin to God for allowing myself to be in the midst of subtle gossip with Jane. I’ve asked God to remove toxic people out of my life – even if it hurts their feelings. I’ve asked God to give me the courage to speak up in His defense. I have no desire to live a mediocre Christian life. I have no desire to live as a counterfeit. My desire is to be one-hundred percent sold out for God. What about you? Are you willing to suffer greatly for God, even if you’re no longer popular? What if it hurts your best-friend? What if it causes great tension in your family? Are you going to stand out in a crowd for doing the right thing, or stand in the current headed in the wrong direction? After tomorrow’s election, will you be like everyone else posting venom online? Or will you turn away from the computer and spend time in prayer for our nation?Which do you choose today? What would help you become a genuine Christian starting today?