Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good Things Can Make Us Stumble, Too

“there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Mark 7:15, NRSV

I vividly remember an argument at a group dinner, about 10 years ago. I had made the statement, “Trash in, trash out”. I was not at a choosy point in my life, but I believe the comment related to a well-known, radio “shock jock”.

We went back and forth with our emotional opinions, never coming to anything but disagreement. The memory lingers due to the height of the emotions. He was very adamant that whatever you take in, doesn’t have to affect you. So, listening to radio or TV, or even what you can see on the internet, should not have an effect on your character or morality.

He was right in a way. It should not.

My point centered around the tendency of media to wear us down. Enough exposure develops a life of gray tones.

How do you feel when the bad guy gets murdered? Me too.

Does repentance ever play out in your “who done it”? Me neither.

This conversation brings to mind God telling the Israelites to remain separate from other people, specifically in marriage. He did not do it to harm them, or take away rights; he did it, to preserve their holiness. God told them that if they compromised, they would choose down, not up. There is something in us that will choose the easy and not the hard.

Jesus acknowledges the tension that exists in the human heart at Gethsemane, “...the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41b, NRSV).” He said this to our apostolic fathers, so I am confident that it is true for me.

Our hearts want to please God, but if we are subject to the right thing long enough, we will go to the lowest common denominator. There are exceptions that are a delight to hear, but this is the general rule. I will share my testimony, at some point, and prove it.

Our hearts, also, corrupt the commandments. We make choices that benefit us rather than those that glorify Him. In the context of Mark’s verse, two good things are on the table, honoring parents and tithing, but the heart is the wild card. It holds the intent of our actions.

Some good choices that I face on a regular basis:

Exercise first or Quiet Time first?

How much weight have I gained, and how guilty do I feel that day?

Do something else for someone, or have more time for myself?

Do I really like this “someone”?

Spend time with my husband or write another devotional?

Did I procrastinate? Do I have a deadline tomorrow?

I assure you, I can corrupt just about anything.

Or, how about this? I know that my speech should not be profane. If I am riled up and let a word fly, there is an immediate visceral reaction. I know that I should not do this; but, if I decide to invite people over to dinner when I should leave a night free for my husband to recover from his week, that is a harder call. It requires sensitivity on my part and submitting every little thing to God in prayer. I have to be diligent in this way or I stumble over the good things.

This encourages me: I think that it glorifies God to know we are being diligent in the struggle. Even if we fail, we try to make every choice subject to Him. Instead of taking the short cuts, we stay.

We find a way to stay.

I am looking forward to the relief from this struggle when I go Home.

How about you?


  1. Relief from the struggle? Yes, PLEASE!!! I would count myself with you, who can corrupt just about anything, too. Then I think, "My goodness, I must find a 'balance'"! But then I think, "Balance with God? Aren't I supposed to be 'sold out'? Doesn't balance actually neutralize us?" If we really are glorifying God in being diligent in the struggle, then I agree that's an encouragement!! Thank you for your blog, Tracy. I truly love it, and I love you. :)

  2. Thank you for leaving me a comment so that I could find my way to the treasure of your blog!
    You have a beautiful gift with words and cannot wait to follow along as you bring glory to our Savior. Your post really resonates with me and your writing style is engaging.
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

  3. It really is about capturing every thought captive for Him isn't it?!


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