Most Americans admire those who practice ‘rugged individualism.’ But in our emphasis on individual freedom, we often lose sight of our corporate responsibility. As Christians, we’re individuals but we’re also part of a people. We’re called to benefit from the work of others, to suffer with others, and to bear responsibility with others. This may not seem fair, but it’s a fact.
You see, our ties reach all the way back to Adam and Eve. We need to be saved because, as it says in the book of Romans, ‘Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone.’ But Roman’s goes on to say that this very principle of corporate connectedness makes salvation possible through our unity with Christ, for ‘Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life’.
When the Israelites returned from their exile, they realized how both they and their ancestors had failed God’s commands, and they were overcome with grief. In that repentant grief, however, they heard the good news of grace, and this revived and renewed their love for God and their desire to obey him.
Ask God to bring to mind any sins or wrongdoings you, or even your family, has committed so you may confess and let go of them. It’s a powerful exercise, but seeing God’s mercy over all your sin can be one of the most liberating experiences ever.
Have you chosen to seek God and surrender to him?Are you seeking His direction of your life?Even if you are, if you’re like me you probably still choose to take the occasional detour.Do you continue to keep options open to do things you know you shouldn’t be doing?Living a life like that will fill you with guilt, shame, anxiety, fear and keep you from living the abundant life.
In order to help you guard against this kind of behavior, James wrote, ‘So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done’.
Don’t you love James? He doesn’t sugar coat things. He gives us a coat of tough love.
Even those of you mature in the faith face decisions and have to make choices every day.It’s both the hardest and easiest thing you’ll ever do. In your surrender, you draw close to Him, and in turn He’ll draw close to you, just as James tells us.
What sorts of things find their way into your heart and mind? If you’re exposing yourself to a constant barrage of ungodly words, music, or images, you’re not taking full responsibility for your life. On the other hand, you can fill your heart and mind with words, music and images not contrary to God’s Word. When you do this, you’ll create a natural defense against some of the evil messages the world so frequently sends your way.
The writer of Psalm 119 declared, ‘I have tried my best to find you’don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you’. Now, ‘hiding’ God’s Word in your heart essentially means memorizing and meditating on passages of Scripture. God uses his Word’the Bible’to speak to you and show you how to live.
You’ve been given the responsibility to guard your heart and to keep track of the things you hide inside it. So, what’s in your heart? Anger? Lust? Inappropriate images from the web? Are you harboring bitterness? Greed? Are you envious of others? If you’re struggling with these things maybe it’s because you have more of the world’s so-called wisdom in your heart than the true wisdom of God.
Are you having a hard time finding God and following his commands? Try hiding God’s word in your heart. It will help you guard against those things that hurt you and displease God.