With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. – Psalm 18:25-26To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. – Titus 1:15-16
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
With the Merciful
Ben commented yesterday about how certain groups of Christians condemn specific things as worldly. People can be pretty selective: rock music is bad but country music might be all right. Being seen at a movie theater is bad, but you can watch old movies on television. I knew people who, at one time, would not drink soda out of a can because beer came in cans, and they wanted to “avoid even the appearance of evil”. Drinking alcohol at all has always been renounced in the churches I normally attend, though, as far as I can tell, only drunkenness is considered sinful – primarily, as Paul points out (Ephesians 5:18), because it is a form of debauchery, compromising health and sound judgment and contributing to other immoral acts. In contrast to alcohol, the sin of gluttony is winked at by most Baptists and Pentecostals. It is not uncommon for an old boy with a 50-inch waist, Type II diabetes, and out-of-control blood pressure to be asking for prayer. He just can’t understand why the Lord won’t heal him. Amazingly, he managed to beat anorexia on his own.
It seems to me, as somewhat confirmed by the verses quoted above, that God deals with us according to our intentions as well as our actions, our mindset and attitudes as well as our abstentions. It almost has the ring of karma. If we are deceitful, God’s dealings with us will seem deceptive. If we are ourselves adherents of the filthy and false, we will come to think that everyone is a hypocrite and a pervert.
I sometimes say that I am cynical and a natural-born skeptic. I was born in Missouri because God thought I might have a better chance of fitting in here. I do indeed tend to suspect that most people are talking and dealing to their own advantage and self-interest and are not necessarily concerned first and foremost with being fair to me in a financial exchange. I don’t go to a car dealer with the expectation that the salesman is actually going to trade with me at a price below the dealer’s net cost.
On the other hand, when people talk about the purity of their lives and how closely they adhere to their standard of righteousness, provided I don’t see evidence contrary to their assertions, I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are better people than I am.
The truth is that about the best I can do in the merciful, blameless, and pure area is to be humble, quick to own up to my errors and acknowledge my faults. I understand that any time I am tempted to blame God or find fault with Him, it is likely to be over something that is inconsistent in my own life. I know some people talk about how they have to “forgive” God. I don’t usually have a lot of trouble with that, though I have been known to argue with Him.
There is a righteousness that has been given to me, but it is not my own. There is purity and integrity in me, though not in my old nature: [D]o you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?