Last week was not a good week for me.
In the past at Gateway Church in South Austin, I’ve shared about my struggle with my temper, and this week I relapsed.
I’ve discovered the root cause of my anger is actually anxiety and a need to be in control which leads to workaholism and even sleepless nights which increases the likelihood of losing my temper. I have been working the steps and making real progress, but this week I blew it.
Kids had finals, Illness running through our household – my days off turned into work days around the house and the stress of funding repairs for the minivan. Lots of good excuses, but still. When I got frustrated, I started yelling – not realizing one of my kids was on Facetime with a friend.
I was so embarrassed. So humiliated. I felt like such a hypocrite!
It’s been a rough week, and to be honest, the thought of sharing a message on overcoming our secret sins and struggles kept looming over me. (See Go and Sin No More for the full message audio and notes)
On Sunday morning, it was the second day in a row to wake up at 3something AM. I wondered if God was trying to tell me something so this morning at 3:18AM, I opened the Bible app on my phone and I was on my way to Ephesians 3:18, but since the last book of the Bible I had read on my app was Ezekiel, I read that verse which says:
When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. – Ezekiel 3:18
Great! Exactly what I wanted to hear. Not only have I been struggling to keep my heart in check with Jesus, I am responsible for everyone else and their struggles?!?
I went ahead and read the passage from Ephesians 3:18 which says:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17b-19
It was in that context this morning, that I sensed God showing me something.
God’s love for us is so real. He loves us so much that He gives us the power to overcome the sin and struggles of this broken world. He forgives us when we fail, and He warns us of what hurts us – what can destroy us and others.
Both of these passages are essential to understanding God’s love!
When we make evil choices, we are choosing a path towards destruction, and he invites us to warn others.
Growing up I felt the Bible was used to keep us from having fun. It felt like a giant rule book of what NOT to do. There was even a phrase meant to help us that actually made it harder for me to trust.
“The Bible says it. That settles it. I believe it.”
For some of us, that’s all we need. Just tell me what to do and not to do, and I will live accordingly.
For some of us, that’s not enough.
After moving out of the Bible belt – from Texas to Seattle and then Los Angeles – something really helped me overcome this resistance to trusting God and His ways.
People investing in me started to help me understand why the Bible says what it says – not just what it says. This changed everything for me.
But until Sunday morning, I always thought: why didn’t the Scriptures just tell us why? Why do I need other people to help understand why to avoid this or to avoid that?
This morning, I realized it does.
Let me give you an example. The Scriptures say we should not commit adultery and then there is case study after case study where we see people whose lives are damaged by having sex with someone who is not their wives.
Even when it was culturally acceptable to have multiple wives – we see famous people like Abraham and David who had sex with women who were not their wives and we saw the consequences were devastating.
Certainly, there are verses that are far more explicit on the topic like this one from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth struggling with morality.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
– 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
There are examples in Scriptures of the devastating affects for breaking all of the commandments!
“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial.
“I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. – 1 Corinthians 10:23
Sin takes on different forms:
- Doing the bad things we know we shouldn’t do.
- Not doing the good things we know we should do.
- Even taking good gifts from God and turning them into our gods.
Too often we shift to a more religious view of God.
We do good out of fear.
We do bad because we feel we’ve already messed up so much.
God’s love for you is real! He warns us of the consequences of our actions to help us avoid the pain in our lives and the lives of others!
God allows us to have what we want which can include the negative consequences of our choices.
So on Sunday morning, I decided to start afresh. I had already apologized to my family and my teen’s friend, and now I made sure to ask God for forgiveness. I asked Him to help me to let go of everything that may stand in the way of what God wants for me.
Just for good measure, I looked up one more passage with 3:18 in the passage. I found a beautiful verse about God’s love for us and His desire to have a genuine and meaningful relationship with Him.
Consider Revelation 3:
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. – Revelation 3:18-20