July 20, 2010

Hold on Tight!

“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” Romans 12.9

O, how easy it would be, in reading Romans 12.9, to just skim over those words and think: ‘I’m doing that. I live like a Christian. I go to church and read my Bible. So surely I’m already clinging to the good and abhorring the bad. Next verse.’ But not so fast! There are some strong words in that verse … namely the words “abhor” and “cling.” The verse does not say: ‘Dislike what is evil; be involved in what is good.’ There would be no need to say that. For every true Christian (and I do mean every) already does those things. We would have no right to call ourselves Christians if we didn’t have an aversion for evil and an attraction to that which is good. For as sure as the Holy Spirit comes to live inside every Christian, He also begins the process of bending our crooked hearts back toward that which is good and acceptable in God’s sight.

Therefore, as I said, Paul had no reason to tell Christians to dislike evil and approve of good. They all already do that. But what he did want to say to every Christian is that we must not rest on our laurels. We must not be content simply to have a new sense of right and wrong, and a new tenderness of conscience toward good and evil. We must take that new and tender conscience and, by the Spirit’s power, tenderize it even further! We must not stop at a distaste for evil … but apply God’s grace and embrace the Spirit’s conviction so that we positively “abhor” what is evil. And many of us, quite frankly, aren’t there. We don’t like what we see on TV commercials, it’s true. But, for many of us, that hasn’t changed our entertainment habits. We don’t like the way our co-workers use God’s name in vain, but we haven’t said anything about it. We feel uncomfortable when we get caught up in a situation when a family member involves us in their dishonesty or immorality, but we don’t always call a halt to our involvement … because it would be too embarrassing to do so. And therefore, I say, we (myself included) often dislike evil, but do not really “abhor” it.

Similarly, every true Christian is disappointed and even bothered by his own personal sins – his or her gossiping, or impatience, or lust, or laziness, or wasting of time. But how many of us truly hate those things enough that we make war on our own flesh, and seek accountability, and confess our sins regularly and with anguish in our hearts? I know some of us do not actually cry readily … but do you ever at least feel like crying because of your sin? If not, you probably haven’t quite mastered Romans 12.9! And neither have I.

And, in the latter half of the verse, the word “cling” is similarly strong. I know that, if you know Jesus, you approve of what is good, and like what is good, and often do what is good. But do you cling to it … the way a child clings to some little trinket that he has got hold of and thinks to be more valuable than gold? How hard it can be to pry a coin, or a toy, out of a child’s hand! But is it that difficult to pry you away from your daily time in God’s word? From the regular habit of being at prayer meeting and worship? From commitments you have made to the members of your church family? How easily are you able to come up with excuses for not sharing your faith, or for not helping that person in need? Often times it’s quite easy for me! My fingers are clenched, far too loosely, around that which is “good”.

Indeed, sometimes our fingers grasped, not all that tightly, to the nail-pierced hands of Jesus Himself. And, while we know – like a child holding his daddy’s hand as they cross a busy street – that we are secure, not so much because of how tightly our fingers grip Him in faith, but because of how tightly His loving hands grip us … it is sometimes true that if we could get away, we just might. Thank God we can't! But sometimes, as I walk through the grocery store or a parking lot, I end up holding Silas’s wrists instead of his hands … because he is so anxious to venture out on his own, that his fingers let go altogether. And there is a danger that we live that way as Christians … wandering instead of clinging tightly to Jesus. No, He will not let go of those who are truly His. But Paul is saying that we shouldn’t let go either!

Cling to what is good! Don’t hold God’s blessings lightly! Grip them like the treasure they are … and especially the blessing that we have in the person of Jesus!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

O Kurt, how I want to cling to Him...every hour of every day...the way I was made to cling those dark days while Mike was so ill...why, Why do we find it more difficult to cling during the good times, the easier days?? That we might 'apprehend that by which we are apprehended, even Christ Jesus'! M.Kathy