As a pastor, I routinely preach how we are to love God more than anyone and anything else in our life, and how that will call us to also love others. One proof that we love God the way we should is that we will love others enough to share the Gospel with them. I routinely preach how there is no greater need that a person has than their need for salvation. I stand behind all of those statements, because they are biblical statements. However, today was a reminder that it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out. James 1:22 says, “Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only, deceiving yourselves.” Romans 12:19-21 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I admit that I have preached on those verses multiple times throughout my ministry. Yet, today was a rough reminder that I have such a long way to go because it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out. I could make a lot of excuses, I could tell others all that occurred and many would be on my side. However, the bottom line is that God was not glorified in how I handled a situation. I have to admit that just typing that last sentence out brought such a heavy weight crashing down on me. Yet, there is no one to blame but me.
I believe those called into leadership are held to a higher standard by God. I believe we are called to live to those standards that we routinely preach about. However, today reminded me that although I am a child of God who has been saved by His grace, inside of me is a sin nature at war with the Holy Spirit of God who lives in me. Today, I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s predicament when he said, “the things I shouldn’t do, those are the things I do; and the things that I should do, those are the things that I don’t do. O wretched man that I am, who can save me from this?”
Have you ever been there? Do you understand what I’m feeling? I think most Christians have been at some time or another. In those difficult moments, when it is obvious that you chose to allow your sin nature to win out over the new nature given to us by Christ, what are we to do? I will tell you what we can’t do. We can’t wallow in it, because that is what satan wants us to do. He is the author of shame and guilt, not God. So then, what do we do? I think the first thing we need to do is allow this to remind us of our need for Jesus. If we could remember everything, perfectly obey in everything ,and behave perfectly in everything, then Jesus would have died in vain. There would have been no point in Jesus’ death, if we could be good enough. But God knew we could never be good enough. He knew that even on days when we are obedient to Him and His Word that there is still sin in our lives. That is the reason that Jesus came to die on the cross. He who was good enough to appease God’s wrath died in the place of those who could never be good enough. Allow this truth to wash over you, and allow you to praise God for His grace. It doesn’t mean that we have a license to sin. When we sin, our hearts should break over our sin, because God’s heart breaks over our sin. Yet, we need to remember that where sin did abound, grace much more abounds we are told in Romans 5. Second, we need to confess our sin. To confess means to agree with God that what we said, did, or thought was wrong. We don’t need to try and sweep it under the rug, or pretend that it didn’t happen. We need to own it, confess it, and then seek God’s help to learn from it and grow from it. That’s the final thing, we need to repent. To repent means to turn around, to go the other way. We can never repent apart from God and His help. Repentance is something that the Holy Spirit does in our heart and in our lives. So we need to cry out to Jesus for help.
It’s ok to feel guilt over our sin, we should feel it in fact. However, we can’t live there. We must look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We must confess our sin, forsake it, and seek God’s help to grow from it. Days like today make me appreciate God’s amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. But it also gives me hope, that if God can save someone like me, then He can certainly save you. You simply need to admit your sin and surrender to His grace. If you aren’t sure how to or you want to, please reach out to us here at Westlake Baptist. We would love the privilege of telling you how you can have the greatest relationship anyone could ever have. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Jesus for saving a sinner such as me!