When my Sweet Girl was four, she snuck into the pantry to get after the Easter candy. She crept into the privacy of the bathroom and dove into the contraband. Her father sensed something was amiss and asked through the door what she was doing. ”MMmmm, nothing”, but upon further inspection, the evidence was there on her face and wrappers littered the floor near the trashcan. She had been tempted and gave in. Been there, done that…recently! In fact, over-indulging led me to make a goal this year…to “not to”…and instead to live in moderation. But this year, so far…not so good. :(
Lately, gluttony is like my own personal and spiritual kudzu infestation – I can’t seem to get rid of it! As I make headway on one front, it gains the advantage on another. And, as the kids and I are talking about how our hearts are like a garden and God is the gardener (I know, that’s another post, another time), I can’t think of a better analogy than kudzu. Once when we were in the middle of an awful drought in Texas, we drove home to New Orleans to visit. I almost cried when we hit Houston and I saw all the kudzu…it was such a beautiful, brilliant green after all the brown, dried-up vegetation we had that year in San Antonio! But the truth of the matter is that kudzu is considered a major nuisance. And it is actually worse than a “nuisance” because it crowds any other plant growing in the same area. It covers plants, trees, and yards, choking out the native vegetation. Kudzu is a botanical disaster in the South.
Gluttony/greed/excess is sin’s response to man’s emptiness. It tries to creep into the holes in us. It wants to be the one to meet our needs, it seeks to fill our stomachs, our hearts, our thoughts, our closets, our time…and in its wake, it creates more and more emptiness. It is a weed in the garden of your heart, re-seeding itself. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8). The emptiness and futility of gluttony makes it self-perpetuating – it is constant craving, a veritable vicious cycle, a perfectly evil design. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Prov 25:28).
For some people, gluttony digs a deeper hole with every bite, every drink, every dollar spent. But for others, gluttony overruns them with every extra hour at work, every extra hour at the gym, every penny saved; because fanatical self-control is NOT the ultimate answer to the sin of gluttony. It is just another kind of gluttony. If most of our thought-life and our time is consumed with counting calories, tweaking our budgets, getting in our workouts, and checking everything off our to-do list, we are NOT better off than those people who gorge and binge and squander. Rather we are just like them. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Ecc. 2:10-11). Godly self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Substituting human self-control for overindulgence is just a deception. The problem is not the behavior, it is in the heart, in the thought-life. Gluttony and human self-control take over your thought-life and your real life too sometimes. Godly self-control frees you from your thoughts and leads you back into relationship with God, seeking Him first in your life.
Man’s antidote for emptiness is the Word of God. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt 4:1-4). Over eating? Over spending? Over working? What can fill that hole? What can bring us resolution and answers? The Word. For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:12-13. So Jerry McGuire got it wrong. As much as we ladies loved to hear that line in the movie, and then elbowed our significant other sharply, another human cannot “complete” us; and neither can another bite, another pair of shoes, another promotion at work or another exercise goal achieved. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17). We are complete in the Word.
I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:19-25).
So, after all this season of Lent and, just in time for Easter candy – I am on the Bread of Life diet. I am tired of both sides of gluttony – the feasting and the famine. I have expended more mental energy over a measly five pounds than anyone in their right mind should! I know I must find my nourishment in every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I am thankful I can draw near to God and He will draw near to me. Instead of trying to battle my own will, I lay it down. And I lay my gluttony down too. And my human effort towards self-control. I know the Lord finds my offerings acceptable.
We are in our second week of Lent – the season of preparation before celebrating Easter, the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. To some, Lent is the season for “giving things up”. I know people who have given up chocolate, alcohol, meat, FaceBook…I think this is a very personal choice that should be done prayerfully. Giving up luxuries can help to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made in dying to save us from our sin (Luke, Chapters 22-24); or it can help us to remember the 40 days He spent in the Wilderness preparing to begin His ministry. In the Wilderness He had to turn away from temptation by Satan (Matt 4:1-11). Jesus is the most powerful example of obedience we have to follow. He came to Earth to do what the law could not do for us, He came make us holy (Romans 8:1-7) – so Lent is a wonderful reminder of that. I do think, sometimes, we can look at “giving things up” to Lord a bit differently. In this series of posts Acceptable Offering I am suggesting that there are other luxuries that we should give up, permanently, that can get overlooked. Today I want to take a second look at Pride, which I have written about recently.
We tend to think of Pride as displayed when a person is boastful, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, or self-promoting. The Bible is absolute on its condemnation of this sort of behavior. There is another way that Pride enters our lives, a sort of back door. The sin of Pride has another face. When we elevate ourselves above God, we are idolizing ourselves, making ourselves into a false idol. This is the root of all Pride. But think of this: are there times when, rather than spending time with the Lord in prayer and in devotion to the Word, you have spent time dwelling on yourself…your flaws…your inadequacies? I have always struggled with this and felt that it was just a mark of good character, to feel shame at my shortcomings and ignore my strengths. When people complimented me it was hard for me to take, so I would deflect it. Any positive comment about my appearance or intellect or my house, I would simply not accept. I would demure and explain it away. Now I see that this was an ungracious attitude and I try to stammer, “Thank you”…but many times I still forget and make some uncomfortable explanation. With years of practice, I have one ready for any situation. A pretty outfit? Got it on sale, not thank you. I have naturally curly hair that sometimes gets noticed. I say, it’s just the weather today…you should have seen it yesterday, not thank you. Generally, I did fairly well in school. If I received compliments from teachers or fellow students on a paper or a test that I had worked hard on, I would say, just lucky I guess, not thank you. If I received a compliment on my cooking…the recipe is so easy not thank you. I used to feel like this was the height of humility, and being humble is a good thing. I never put myself above others, in fact I would put myself down publicly for a variety of reasons…to avoid the appearance of pride, or to make others feel more comfortable, or to make people laugh, or before someone else could put me down I would beat them to it. To make my best effort and never acknowledge that I had tried – this felt like the most noble accomplishment. I know this behavior came out of a real lack of self-esteem – most of the time I did not feel worthy and so compliments made me uncomfortable. But when I did feel a sense of accomplishment over something, I would not let myself enjoy that either. This is a vicious way to treat yourself. It is a cycle that repeats itself continuously till you cannot imagine that there is any good in you anywhere.
In our culture, we have a way of twisting things to the point of distortion. Humility is a good thing. But humiliation is not. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10, NKJV). Our culture is so rich in Pride that we don’t know what it is to be humble. People would say that low self-esteem is the same as humility, the opposite of Pride. We tend to feel sorry for those with low self-esteem and despise the prideful person. Yet they are one in the same. Whenever we focus the majority of our thought-life on ourselves we are taking our minds of off God, we are consumed by ourselves, we are elevating ourselves above God – this is a luxury we cannot afford. She who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives (1 Tim 5:6). Think about it. The Bible does not tell us to dwell on ourselves, rather set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:2-3). In fact we told, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8). We are told to occupy our minds with God, to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). A mind filled up with God has no place for self-centered thinking.
The world would tell us that it is almost noble to feel low self-esteem. But God wants so much more for us. David is a great example of choosing a better thought-life: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God (Psalm 43:5). Turning our thoughts to God, from ourselves, brings us to a new place of peace and rest, because we are doing what we were made to do. Peter says you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10). Remember, you are not your own; you were bought at a price. (1 Cor 6:19-20). Jesus, who paid that price, said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). We are not to live downtrodden lives, consumed by guilt and fear and hopelessness – lives consumed by self. We are to live in such a way that honors God – a life focused on Him and pleasing Him will yield fruit and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Pride in any form is unhealthy for us. The antidote for what ails us is found in turning our hearts and minds toward God:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100
JustAgirl…just like you.
What is an Acceptable Offering to the Lord? As I have mentioned before, we often think of giving God our very best, and of course this thought has a strong biblical foundation. But I am convinced that God also wants us to willingly relinquish to Him our very worst. Those things we hold to like a second skin. Willingly, we offer our praises, our thanksgiving, our firstfruits. Greedily, we hold back from Him those things that we do not know how to live without.
In Joshua 6 and 7, the wall of Jericho came down when the Israelites carefully followed God’s directions. Afterward, Joshua told the men to destroy everything except the silver, gold, bronze and iron, which were to be dedicated to the Lord. Achan of Carmi, of the tribe of Judah, secretly disobeyed this edict until the Lord exposed him to the entire nation of Israel, whereupon he confessed, “when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath” (Joshua 7:21). His sin brought the Lord’s judgement upon Israel; so he and his entire family were stoned to death and he was buried under a huge pile of rocks. After the people killed Achan, the Lord turned his burning anger away from [Israel] (Joshua 7:26). Achan thought he could secretly keep something for himself, though he was expressly told not to, and this was his downfall. The series of posts, Acceptable Offering, explores those things we may be unwilling to offer to the Lord. As with Achan, holding onto things when we are expressly told not to, can be our own undoing and bring trouble to those around us.
My very favorite novel in all the world is Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (AmazonPrime). Like all of Jane Austen’s stories, the characters are drawn with great detail and much attention is paid to their their motives and intentions. The novel is written primarily from the point of view of Miss Elizabeth Bennett. She is so clever, and capable, and comfortable in her own skin – I have always admired her. Her male counterpart is the wealthy and arrogant Mr. Darcy. As the title indicates, the story is about a Pride and, well, obviously…Prejudice. Our Miss Bennett is often a bit too quick to make judgements about people upon meeting them (Prejudice) and the aloof Mr. Darcy is apt to look down his gentrified nose at almost everyone (Pride). As the story develops, we begin to see that things are not as simple as they seem. In the end, we see that Prejudice comes from a sort of pride and Pride can cause one to unjustly prejudge people. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy had a lot more in common than they knew at the beginning. In other words, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42). Or as we say at our house: pot/kettle. In the book, there is a happy ending. Don’t you miss those these days? The characters see their own shortcomings and realize they were wrong about each other.
The moral of the story is that Pride comes in many forms. Sometimes it is obvious to everyone, like when a person has a tendency to brag. Of course, these days we just call that good self-esteem and maybe a little harmless self-promotion. God says: Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (Prov. 27:2). Other times pride is more internalized and may be perceived simply as self-confidence and self-reliance. But inside, this is the person who sees themselves as “the self-made man/woman”, who has it all under control. This is the action hero in every movie, most of our politicians, sports legends, movie stars, and plenty of people that you see every day. God says: Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Prov. 26:12). There are people who build themselves up by tearing others down. They say, “It’s just a joke.” They offer “friendly” advice (all the time) to the rest of us, smugly disapproving of us as they “help”. God says: The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name— behaves with insolent fury (Prov. 12:24). Some gossip about others saying, “Just keeping you in the loop” or lamenting, “Did you hear? Isn’t it a shame?” God says: Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate (Psalm 101:5).
It is these little things…that seem to be so harmless. But little sins are still sins. Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear (Is 59:2). People say, “That’s just who I am. I can’t help it.” God says: if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Gen 4:7. As we bring the offering of ourselves before the Lord, we are to be completely dedicated to Him. We are not to keep a portion back, to do with as we wish. We must search our hearts and unearth all that is rightfully His so that we can make our Acceptable Offering to Him. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Ps 51:17).
JustAgirl…just like you.
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops (Prov 3:9, NIV). I wrote the first post in this category some time ago, discussing that, though it is true we should give God our very best (i.e. the firstfruits), the process of our sanctification also demands that we give Him our very worst. These are things we cling to, sins we want to avoid dealing with, ungodly feelings and actions we justify, and secrets we keep from the rest of the world. Like the character Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the things that we hold closest to our hearts can corrupt us. What is so “precious” to you that you cannot lay it down? For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt 6:21, KJV). Are there things that you hold dear, so dear, that you withhold them from God, even attempting to hide them from Him and others: “small” resentments…”little” bad habits…”slight” grudges, or more? Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Hebrew 4:13, NIV). LORD, You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence (Ps 90:8, NIV). God wants us to divest ourselves of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1, NIV). He wants freedom for us and He knows that holding on to the ways of the flesh enslaves us to sin. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:6-11). Yet, we struggle to let go. Our old “comfortable” ways result in spiritual and emotional dis-comfort. And still…while we are willing to offer our thanks, our praise, our money, our time and our service to the Lord, we often stop short of giving Him the ugliest parts of us – out of fear, shame or the desire to maintain the status quo. Yet, offering our “worst” to God would honor Him just as much, or more, than giving our best.
Over the next few months, I will periodically post in this category, Acceptable Offering, about some of those “precious” things that we may need to offer up to God. We are all in different places on our journey. We have had unique experiences (good and bad) that have helped form our ways of dealing with stress, disappointment, success, failure or just…life in general. Often, what we’ve learned from the World leads us to broken ways of navigating through life; and these are the topics I plan to post about: Pride (Part I), Pride (Part II), Idolatry, Gluttony & Greed, Slothfulness, Malice, Envy & Jealousy, Anger, Fear, and Rebellion. Now, this is one of those top ten lists you don’t want to be on, so we must all look closely at ourselves to see if we are entertaining these sorts of thoughts, words and behaviors. Sin, even in small amounts, interrupts our fellowship with God. This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:5-9). So let us demonstrate our love to Him by bringing Him all sorts of Acceptable Offerings…especially a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, [which He] will not despise (Ps 51:17).
JustAgirl…just like you!
Three years ago God gave me an insight. Now this was a real revelation for me. So I guess if I can benefit from hearing tough words, maybe you can too? Today, three years later, I sit here, still needing to hear the same thing. Not much progress! But the old problems have a way of sneaking up on you…you’ll see what I mean.
God wants us to give Him our best, the best of who we are. In the Old Testament, the command was “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.” Ex 23:19. Not to get too bogged down in detail, but there were different kinds of offerings that were offered for different reasons: the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering are detailed in Leviticus 1-7 (click here for more information on each of the offerings if you are interested). In all cases, whatever offering was required, and for whatever reason it was required, the offering was to be the very best. Even the priests were instructed about their offering: You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you (Num. 18:29). Okay, a spotless and blameless offering, the first fruits, the best of the best – what more could God want? You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17. And…with what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:6-8.
So obviously, the state of the heart matters to God. His Word tells us: above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Prov. 4:23). In the New Testament Jesus indicted the Pharisees for the same problem that had occurred with the Israelites so many years before – people don’t change! They were relying on sacrifices and rituals to honor God rather than truly honoring Him with their lives, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matt 23:27). Jesus did approve of one person’s sacrifice though. Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” Mark 12:41-44. Jesus saw that in her heart she was honoring God and gave, what would have been very precious to her, to the LORD even though it did not look like much to most people.
Of course we still bring our financial offerings, even as the poor widow did. But since Jesus brought the New Covenant and He was the ultimate sacrifice, believers are not required to make burnt offerings, to offer sin sacrifices…or are we? God asks us to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us (Heb. 12:1) and that we lay aside the old self (Eph 4:22). True, these are not burnt offerings. And in the literal sense, they are not sacrifices. Some would say we are definitely not sacrificing when we lay aside sin, which is bad for us, but I disagree. Turning away from sin can be very difficult, even sacrificial. Paul said, I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! (Rom 7:14-24). We continue to struggle with sin, but we cannot defeat it ourselves - Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:25). We continue to struggle with sin, but this is not God’s will for us, that we stay…stuck…helpless. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7-10). God does not require us to fix ourselves, just to submit to Him and allow Him to do it. These difficulties are actually easy…we do not need to defeat the devil (Jesus did that already), just resist him and turn away from the sin and, instead, toward the Lord. So my revelation, my realization, my conviction is this: while it is wonderful to give the Lord our very best, sometimes it is better to give Him our very worst, because these are the things we hold most dear. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4:23-32). Some of us struggle with a lingering sin that we give to God and take back again periodically. Is it a grudge, some lingering bitterness over an old hurt? Is it a bad habit – gossip, “little white lies”? Gluttony? Have trouble with your temper? You may identify with the list above or it could be something else entirely. The contradiction is that these things, that are so troublesome to us, can also become very dear to us. So if I lay my bitterness down on the altar and relinquish a old grudge, I am actually giving the Lord something very precious indeed. It may not look like my “first fruits” or a spotless and blameless offering. It is not the same as offering my service to the Lord or my thanksgiving or offering my praise – these are all beautiful to Him, no doubt. But I think He wants us to give Him the ugliest part of ourselves, the part that we hold so tightly to…I think He counts the cost of relinquishing that sin as very high, because Jesus paid the ultimate price for those sins. And to relinquish sin and to truly repent, does humble us, really does make us more Christ-like and therefore this is a holy and acceptable sacrifice unto Him.
JustaGirl…just like you!