In reading through Andrew’s recent blogs on identifying sin and replacing it with righteous and pure thoughts and actions, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:3-11 and the critical need to support and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Thank God we are not to walk this journey alone! This world will often trivialize sin and tempt us to take the easy option, so we must encourage one another to focus on what is pure and honorable and just and lovely as it says in Phil 4:8.
Let me be frank and honest here though. Andrew rightly said we should hate and detest sin as it goes against God’s very character. However, in actual fact, there are times, if we are honest with ourselves, when we “want to sin”… we want to take the so called easy option, to make the choice that we think will bring us more satisfaction. As appealing as it may be for many of us to have lots of chocolate or ice cream, afterwards our actions often lead to guilt and a stomach ache. We feel unhealthy and our bodies don’t feel like they are working at their best. This is what it is like with sin… It’s appealing, but always leads us feeling guilty and broken. We are never fulfilled in the long run. We may have short term satisfaction, but always long term decay and unfulfilment. Given the enticing nature of sin, we need to be honest about our struggles with God and when appropriate with others, followed by how God blesses us as we choose to trust in Him rather than continue to feed our sinful appetites. To keep from others how God impacts and liberates our lives robs them of the hope and comfort that God has given us.
One good example of where we need to encourage one another is in marriage. Marriage is an amazing blessing, but is not easy. There are many challenges and temptations in this world that will strive to tear marriages apart. But the fulfillment and blessing one has when you choose to persevere through the tough times despite how you might be feeling is truly amazing. That’s what growing in character is all about… Trusting in God and choosing to honour him despite how we may be feeling. If we base our decisions and actions primarily on how we feel, then we are walking on VERY shaky ground! See Jeremiah 17:9.
Over recent weeks my wife and I have had the privilege and blessing to be a support to a newly married couple. Like many others they have been struggling to adjust to the changes that married life brings and therefore doubted their decision. It gave my wife and I a great opportunity to tell them of our own ups and downs in marriage and how God has sustained and blessed us. This couple fed back to us that to hear of our experiences encouraged them greatly as they realized they were not alone in their struggles, there was not necessarily “something wrong” with them but rather it was something they too would have to work through and trust in God with. In doing so God will sustain and bless them.
We need to be honest with each other and when appropriate, vulnerable about the struggles in our lives. To keep it hidden and portray the facade that we don’t struggle, that we have it all together, won’t help anyone. It also doesn’t honour God as it stops people seeing how in our brokenness He builds us up and conforms us into His image. Our conformity into the image of God is completely a result of His mercy and grace in our lives, not our ability to live righteously. Why pretend we have it all together then?
So let me encourage you to keep an eye out for those whom God places in your life to encourage, to walk with to help through those dark and challenging times that life will inevitably bring to all of us. And if you are currently going through a struggle or have been built up by God after making some big mistakes in your life, let me encourage you that if you are willing God will use you to be there for someone else who is going through similar struggles. What a privilege and blessing that is for us and the people we comfort. What a testimony to the power and grace of God in our lives!