There’s something about board games that makes them uber fun whether you’re five or fifty five. Just me? I think it’s that thrill of getting so close to beating someone but knowing you can’t get too cocky before your luck changes and the tables turn, and it’s you hanging onto the game with the skin of your teeth. I think it’s clear that I love a good board game, but my reflection time this week revealed the extent to which I connected with them. Mulling over the lessons life taught me this week it dawned on me that I had been treating life like one long board game. More specifically, a game of Snakes and Ladders.
Random. I know. But true nonetheless. As I reminisced on a week spent battling with my sins I discovered the root cause of my attitude towards sin and the aftermath that followed every sin I committed. For me, every time I learnt a lesson from God, obeyed his direction, was enjoying regular quiet time with him, I felt like I was playing the Christianity game the way it should be played. I was going up all the ladders and edging closer to fulfilling all God had for me. Meanwhile every sin was the equivalent of stepping on a snake, taking me a hundred steps back and making it seem impossible that I would ever live out my purpose. Sinning made me distraught and conflicted about how to act next. If I repented it would mean acknowledging that I had done wrong and accepting that I was back at square one. I questioned how far I had really come if I was willing to throw it all away so quickly at the lure of temptation.
What I came to terms with was how wrong my attitude towards sin was. There can be awful consequences of sin, I don’t need to remind you about Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, Moses not being able to enter the promise land, the destroying of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ending of all life outside the ark. These are all valid examples of the seriousness that committing sin behold but they are not proof that every sin brings us back to the drawing board with God. The reason sin and more importantly the fear of sin had such a big impact on my life is because I has genuinely started to believe that my actions made me righteous.
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
We get into the mindset that our actions make us righteous so we get so disappointed in ourselves because we’ve sinned so we’re ‘no longer’ righteous but we were never made righteous because of our actions. God makes us righteous and he’s the same person whose blood washes us white as snow. We can live according to the ways of God, only through the grace of God.
Here’s a word of advice for everyone whose struggling with living with themselves after they sin.
When you sin, you must repent, and then you must move on.
Two things that set me free:
1) Guilt is not of God.
By all means feel convicted of the sins you commit, but once you’ve repented, God had forgiven you, so you’ve got to follow suit and forgive yourself. We’ve got a bit of cheek haven’t we, having the audacity to punish ourselves for things that God has forgotten all about. It may not seem fair that you can commit 100 sins a day and with one prayer of repentance God wipes your slate clean, but that is just the way it is. Simples.
2) You are what you eat.
A lot of the time we feel so bad about a particular sin we’ve committed/ keep committing that we put safeguards in place to prevent ourselves from committing the sin ever again, which is good, and can even be great when it stops us from giving in to ourselves, but are we really solving the issue? You can put safeguards in place but don’t be surprised if they don’t work when you haven’t stopped to pray about the issue and to meditate on God’s word. Our actions generally reflect what’s going on in our hearts and when we’re acting in a way that’s contradictory to what God tells us to do we have to look back at what we’ve allowed to enter our hearts and minds.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
If you have a problem with gambling it doesn’t make sense to stay up late every night and watch online gambling shows for ‘entertainment’. You’re going to end up desiring what you surround yourself with so let’s make life easier for ourselves and surround ourselves with the things of God.
Instead of living in constant guilt as I struggle to win the battle against sin, this week I will feast on the word of God and allow that to change my thinking.