"But maybe I need to view my trials in a new light because trials show us what is in our hearts..."
Sins can have a funny way of sneaking up on us. Just when we think we are overcoming one sin, we notice a different sin in our lives. It can be discouraging because it feels like a battle that we always lose. When we focus all of our attention on overcoming sins, two things can happen:
- We realize we cannot win, and we are overcome with guilt and shame.
- We rely on our own power and start to gain victory over a certain sin. We become filled with pride and look down on others for not having the power to overcome as we have.
Both of these things happen because we begin to take our eyes off of Jesus. We try to overcome the sin with our own power and we either fail or allow another sin (pride) to take its place. Instead of focusing on Jesus and using His strength to replace the sin, we try to overcome the sin ourselves.
When a trial comes my way, I often see new sins pop up in my life that I have never had to deal with before. For example, I never really struggled that much with anger until I had children. I may have looked at people who struggled with that sin and thought they just didn't know how to manage their emotions and pride had settled in my heart. But now, years later, I see that, in the right situation, we are all capable of ANY sin.
I didn't know that I would struggle so much with the sin of fear and unbelief until my health was threatened and I became terrified of leaving my family behind.
I didn't realize how much I loved material things until we sold our house and moved into an apartment.
I didn't realize how much I loved my children above God until one of our children was very sick and we were afraid he had a life-altering disease.Sins creep in our lives so quickly. Many times we notice this happening when we are under extra stress or going through a trial. Sometimes we are in denial that they have crept in, and we try to push them aside, without ever acknowledging or confessing them.
Trials. are. no. fun. I want out of them as soon as I enter them, and I am always looking for a way around them. But maybe I need to view my trials in a new light because trials show us what is in our hearts. If a new sin surfaces when I am going through a trial, it is an opportunity for me to cut off a part of my life that is not looking like Christ, a part of me that I may not have seen if I had not gone through a trial. I was probably struggling with that sin all along, but it didn't come to light until I opened up my eyes to see the stronghold it was having in my life.
As new sins sneak up on us, may we use them as an opportunity to cut off whatever it is in our lives that doesn't look like Christ. Is my mouth causing me to sin by constantly complaining and arguing? Then, maybe I need to talk less until I can train my mind to say things that are encouraging and uplifting. Is fear keeping me from joining a home team and being around new people? Then maybe I need to make myself join a home team and push past the fear. Is pride keeping me from making things right with my husband when we got in an argument? Then, I should humble myself and apologize so that the relationship can be restored.
May our sins be used:
- To remind ourselves that we are weak
"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12
- To help us truly confess our sins and repent
At first, it is tempting to disregard the sin in our lives. If we don't deal with it, we can pretend it's not really there. But, when we do this, our sin is separating us from God and our relationship with Him is broken. As we confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and can show us how we can become more like Him. Psalm 32 is such a good description of how sin can cause us such despair. Forgiveness is right there, if we will take time to examine our hearts and turn from our sin so that we can become more like Christ.
- To help us become more like Christ
- As an opportunity to relate to others
"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11The next time we see sin trying to take root in our lives, it is my prayer that we will not be overcome with guilt and shame. Instead, repent and thank God that we do have forgiveness offered to us. At the same time, instead of relying on our own will power to overcome sin, may we truly fix our eyes on Jesus and look for ways that He can use that sin in our life to point us back to Him. What can we do to replace that sin in our lives? How can we love on someone else who is dealing with that same sin? Satan is seeking to keep us off track however he can, but God can use even our mistakes as a way to bring us back to Him. Be on the alert because Satan usually works in these two ways: he works by making us feel powerless OR by making us feel like we can handle everything on our own. Both are wrong and both will end up taking us away from Christ.