Sin in a Gold Wrapper

For he satisfies the thirsty, and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9

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If you take a good look at the picture of one of the now several candy buckets we have in our home-our constant reminder of Halloween-you will see something is missing. It is the chocolate and caramel covered cookie that comes wrapped in the tantalizing and dazzling gold wrapper. The sweet goodness known as Twix. Yes, I dug through several buckets of candy and confiscated every one of those miniature candy bars!

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

In truth, all things really are not lawful for me, especially cookies, even chocolate and caramel covered ones. Although they are certainly good, cookies, cakes, breads, and anything else of the like are not good and helpful to me. But, when those Twix are in my kitchen taunting me and calling my name, I forget my intolerance to wheat. I forget that my body is a temple to be taken care of and cherished as the image of God. I forget once again that the devil is appealing to one of my earthly desires-food and chocolate. I dive right into the bucket for just one, then just one more. Oh, heck, this is the last one, I promise! Until one Twix has become six!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12

See, I lack self-control when it comes to many things, and food happens to be one of them. Cookies, candy, Doritos, Utz Crab chips, and a homecooked or Mexican dish all appeal to my taste buds. Yes, I am small. I am petite, and I am blessed with my parents’ “thin” genes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a hard time controlling myself with a plate of nachos, at the dessert buffet, or with a bucket of Halloween candy. It doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with resisting fried chicken, burgers, fries, or pizza-all the things that are “lawful,” but certainly not helpful to my body.

Although our problems with the temptation of overindulging on food seems like small potatoes in terms of sin, the Bible is clear about our desire and temptation to place a large amount of emphasis and time on food. Proverbs 23:2-3 is clear about our cravings: Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

Sure, food is essential for our health and to sustain life, but it should not rule our hearts and minds. God wants our “cravings” to be for Him, not the Twix in the candy jar.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not uncommon to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Our escape from temptation can begin with a reliance on Him to help us with our self-control and the willpower to overcome our desires for the things that are not helpful. It is saying, “No,” to the Twix, and picking up the Bible to chew on God’s Word instead. It is craving more time with Him before dinner, instead of succumbing to the craving of Chinese takeout. It is knowing that only God will satisfy this sweet tooth, and that only He can give the sweetness of life for which we all thirst-something that a bucket full of Twix will never do!

We Are All the Least of These

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia to spend a week immersing myself in a class I had to take as part of my Professional Counseling curriculum at Liberty University. For weeks, months even, I stressed about and dreaded the thought of spending the money to travel, and spending a week in a hotel room, days with strangers, and a week away from my family. I eventually sucked it up and kept telling myself: “It is just a week, just another graduation requirement. No big deal, right?

Wrong! What I once thought was simply a class requirement ended up being an often grueling, rather nerve-wracking, yet, life changing experience.

See, before I traveled to Lynchburg to embark on this phase of my college journey, I thought I was pretty tolerant and willing to show grace of others sins. I thought I had it all together, and that I was unbiased, empathetic, and well-versed at showing Biblical grace.

Wrong again! I was pretty tolerant. I was rather empathetic, and could usually place myself in other’s shoes, but it took facing my own demons of the past, and discovering why I built my own walls to quickly find out I had so much more to learn. So much further to go on this journey to grace.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. Titus 2:11

When we give our lives to God, and begin to navigate our way through newfound salvation and newfound life in Christ, we often forget that we are still natural-born sinners. We often think: “I have been made new. I have turned from my evil ways, and I am free. Free to judge others sin. Free to criticize those who do wrong, and point the finger at those who do wrong. I have it all together now, right? Wrong!

Let’s be frank and honest, here. We are all sinners. We all have demons in our past. We all have struggles with our flesh, mind, and spirit. My sin is no less and no more than anyone else’s, and coming to terms with this, tearing down the walls that say “I am right, and you are wrong” is how we begin to walk the path towards showing the grace of God.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10

Jesus was the friend of sinners, come to die for the least of these, dying on a cross between two men sentenced for their crimes, and dying at the hands of a nation who believed they were right, and Jesus was wrong. Still, Jesus knew that each sin was no more and no less.

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:24

That dreaded week away from home was not just another class I needed to take to graduate, but a challenge from God for me to become more tolerant, more forgiving, more patient, more empathetic, and more willing to show grace-to fellow followers of Christ, to those who don’t believe, and to the least of these; to point them all to healing power of Christ, and most importantly  to crossover the line and love like He did.