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Posts Tagged ‘Series: ‘true’ vs TRUTH’

‘true’ vs TRUTH #3: do I sin because of my past…?

In Endurance, Sin on May 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Today’s potentially ‘true’ statement is sneaky.  Sneaky I tell you.

“I struggle with this sin because of events outside of my control.

Let me give you some hypothetical examples based on a *friend* of mine…

‘I struggle with fear of abandonment because my dad left when I was younger’

‘I struggle with lust because I’m single’

‘I am the way I am because of the way my parents raised me’

Now, before you freak out, let me clearly say: these things might be true.  Things that happened to us in our past may shape and effect the things we do today.  However, we must be careful that these potentially true statements do not distract from the real biblical truth.  The bible describes the origin of EVERY sin we commit and presents a very clear TRUTH:

‘I struggle with sin because every intention of my heart is only evil continually.’

Sin does not begin externally.  It begins internally.  Circumstances and situations may aggravate and trigger our sin, but the sin in rooted and born in our hearts.

Girls who lost their dads at a young age typically struggle with finding their worth in men, but they certainly aren’t the only people in this world who struggle with insecurity.  Their circumstances may have shaped the external symptoms of that insecurity, but these circumstances didn’t create their sin.  James is clear that our sin comes when we are lured and tempted by desires that we have; we give those desires more worth than the desires of God.

The potentially ‘true’ statements above may be actually true for your life, but dwelling on them instead of the truth will render you ineffective in fighting sin.  Why?  Because step one is repentance.  and until you own responsibility for your heart and sin you cannot truly repent.

Tim Chester in his book You Can Change points out that the main reason that you and I continue in our sin is because we excuse or minimize our sin.  We don’t fight our failings because we blame others for them; we let potentially true statements help us avoid the truth.

When I focus on how the sins of others or how events outside my control have contributed to the sin tendencies I see in my life, I slowly but surely shift the blame off myself and onto them.  I become bitter, frustrated; I become a victim of sin rather than a perpetrator, and while I may have been a victim at one time or another, I have always been a perpetrator.   If I focus on these potentially ‘true’ statements rather than the truth I may find myself standing before the Holy and perfect God of the universe explaining away my sin, blaming events or people or hormones rather than finding myself on my face, proclaiming: ‘be merciful to me, a sinner.’

The great news of the gospel is that I can look at my sin smack in the face.  I can name it worse than I ever imagined.  I can take full responsibility and forgive anyone whose sinned against me – knowing that the birth place of evil in the world is inside my heart.  I can do all these things without once feeling discouraged, afraid, inadequate or guilty.  I don’t have to feel ashamed or beaten down.  Because my sin doesn’t affect my identity.  It doesn’t make me feel worthless because my worth isn’t found in my own purity; it’s found in Christ’s.

Sin is the lens through which I see the gospel.  A personal responsibility and awareness of the darkness of my heart doesn’t leave me feeling hopeless it leaves me feeling filled with worship: God’s grace is greater.  Show me just how black my heart is and I’ll show you the brightness of God’s light.  I’m not afraid of my sin.  To be afraid, ashamed, guilty would be a proclamation that the blood of Christ isn’t quite mighty enough to wash a sinner like me clean.

I will boast in my weakness. I will claim responsibility for all my sin.  So that in me – the worst of sinners – Christ’s grace might be most clearly displayed.

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‘true’ vs. Truth #2: a change in circumstances is what i need

In Endurance, Sin on May 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Today’s potentially true statement will be brought to us by the letter ‘c’ for CIRCUMSTANCE!

Potentially true statement is….

“A shift in circumstances will be the key to peace and joy”

Let me provide some examples of how this looks:

“Once I finish this thing for work I will be able to rest”

“If I had a husband (and therefore sex) I would be more peaceful”

“I’ll be okay once I get past this season where work and life is crazy

In what ways are you anxious or concerned?  In what ways would a shift in circumstance set you free?

These aren’t false statements.  They are potentially true.  A shift in circumstances really might result in momentary peace.  If you think someone at church is frustrated with you, you might be a bundle of nerves, and when you hear the ‘good news’ that they think you’re swell, it will result in peace.  We’ve seen this work time and time again; we attribute peace to a resolution of circumstances. ‘I’m stressed at work, so I’ll work late’. Working late in this scenario will save me from anxiety. ‘I’m lonely because my husband is absent (or non-existant); good time with him (or having one at all) will help’.

All potentially true.  But not truth.

Our truth today is brought to us by the letter ‘p’ for PHILIPPIANS, PAUL or PEACE

Paul instructs the church at Philippi to fight for their joy and peace.  Instead of being anxious, they should make their requests known to God and then ‘the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.’

First things first – peace that transcends understanding is peace in the midst of circumstances.  Peace that comes after you resolve conflict, or after you finish a big project or when you’re with the people you love most in the world and they are affirming you is good.  it’s still peace.  But it’s not peace that surpasses understanding.  That peace makes total sense.  Paul is writing from prison, with death on the horizon.  This peace doesn’t make worldly sense.

Furthermore, the peace he promises here ‘guards’ us.  From what?  From our sin that is so easily agitated by circumstance.  That guard is only necessary if we haven’t been removed from circumstances.

Here’s the truth:

A shift in circumstances will rob us of the opportunity to experience this peace.

Once I am married (or dead – whichever comes first) I will no longer have the opportunity to have peace in the face of singlness.  Once I finish this crazy project I’ve been working on at work for like 80 years, I will no longer have the opportunity to have peace in the face of a big tasks list.

I hear college students tell me about 20 times a minute how hard it is to take a sabbath in college.  Once they have time to take a sabbath they no longer have the opportunity to reflect to the world an obedience born out of a peace that transcends understanding.

And here’s the thing I love most about this peace.  It doesn’t just guard my mind, it guards my heart.  It’s a peace that changes everything.  It changes how I feel.  It removes comparison and fear and doubt and anger and bitterness.  It produces joy and contentment and excitement.

The more challenging my circumstances the more I can experience a peace that makes NO sense; the more I can experience the reliability of Christ as a refuge.

When we counsel ourselves or a believer who is in a tough spot, our first efforts shouldn’t go to trying to fix or shift their circumstance.  Our first question shouldn’t be: ‘what are the things that need to change to remove this anxiety’?  Our first thought should be celebration; what an opportunity to experience one of the greatest gifts Christ has given us: His peace!  What are the circumstances that are agitating your anxiety, your discontentment?  How can these be an opportunity to see God reveal how great a savior He really is?

I don’t want a false savior.  I don’t want to turn to working harder to save me from anxiety at work.  I don’t want to turn to people to save me from loneliness.  I don’t want to turn to resolving conflict to save me from my approval idol.  Don’t misunderstand me: I want to work hard, I value community and I love resolved conflict.  But I want those things to be fruit of a peace rather than idols to save me from peace.

In hard circumstances I have a limited time opportunity to experience peace that really defies understanding; that is completely illogical.  In hard circumstances I have a limited time opportunity to test my heart and see the fruit that comes from trusting in Him.

Give me grace to believe that You are a better savior.

‘true’ vs. truth: single for a reason…?

In Endurance, Practical Issues, Sin, Singleness on May 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm

In Philippians, Paul says “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.”

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the difference between potentially true statements and ‘truth’.  I think so much of my sin and frustration has come from meditating on a potentially ‘true’ statement instead of meditating on the ‘truth’.  It seems to me like their should be true things and false things and as long as I’m on the ‘true’ side – I’m fine.  But that’s not the case.  The reality is, there are a million potentially ‘true’ things that we aren’t called to meditate and focus on because they are not ultimately the ‘truth’.

So, over the next couple of posts I’ll focus on statements that might be ‘true’ but aren’t the ‘truth’.

Here’s example one of a potentially true statement that is not truth:

“I am single because no one wants me’.

I myself NEVER struggle with this thought.  However, I have a “friend” who does.  And here’s why it’s hard for ‘her’ to fight this: because really – it might just be true.

While my (er…her) friends might try to convince her there’s not an ounce of truth in that – they just don’t know that.  And logically of course it might really be the case.  It might be true that she is single because no one wants her.  It might be true that she is single because she’s crazy and annoying.  She might be single because she is too opinionated and not sweet or pretty enough.

All these things might be true.  But these things are not the truth.  They are not the ‘true’ that Paul is talking about in Philippians 4 that we should think on.  They are not the truth that brings the peace and trust in God.

The truth is:

“I am single because it’s for my good.” (Romans 8:28)

“I am single because it is better for me than marriage.” (1 Corinthians 7:38)

“I am single because it’s God’s goodness in my life.” (psalm 84:11)

The call from Paul is a call to fight the sin with faith in the truth.  I cannot fight the sin of self-pity, covetousness, jealousy, discontentment by trying to take potentially true statements and declare them false.  I will never conquer insecurity by trying to convince myself that potentially true statements are false.  My hope and peace and purity won’t be found in believing that I’m not crazy or that I’m not single because no one wants me.

My hope and peace and purity come when I believe the truth.  That I have every need met in Christ.  That ‘all is mine’ as it says in 1 Corinthians.  That marriage is not a reward for godliness and singleness is not a punishment for sin.  I am single because He loves me.  I am single because He made a promise to give me everything that’s good for me.  And He is faithful.

Counsel yourself, counsel others with the truth.  Don’t counsel them with potentially true statements, and don’t council them by trying to deny potentially true statements.  Regardless of what is potentially ‘true’ there is only one source of perfect truth and wisdom, and that has been fully revealed to us in God’s word.  We don’t have to wonder about all the other factors – we just need to take hold of the clear and perfect truth.  Fight the good fight of believing that truth.  Cling to it and wrap ourselves in it and entertain no other thoughts.

More potentially ‘true’ thoughts vs. truth to come…