"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, February 11, 2011

SWEAT THE "small" STUFF

James 1:14 (NIV) "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."


My graphic design diva is amazing! Her creative talent continues to blow me away. When she designed the header for my blog, my bio sheet and business cards last year I could hardly believe how good I looked. Hear me out. I know my place in this world is not on the front of a magazine. Truth is friends, I have a lot of blemishes. However, her photo shop program erased my wrinkles and crows feet, gave me good skin color and softness, and even whiter teeth.

Modern technology makes it possible to enhance and change photographs in remarkable ways. Even the most plain and unattractive image can be made to look beautiful. Oh, how similar the enemy works. Satan schemes his way into our thinking by glossing over our perceptions or tweaking our understanding of sin and its consequences.

An unknown author describes it this way, "Satan paints a picture that dwindles the brilliance of God and the sinfulness of sin. He makes God out to be not so great and Satan makes sin out to be not so bad. He slyly enhances the image to make something that is wretched to appear to be a work of beauty. But, making sin look attractive cannot change its fundamental nature and character."

Sin is rebellion against a Holy and righteous God. It should disgust us. God loves us so much he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sin. Have we forgotten the significance of what this means? Recognizing God's lavish love for us should penetrate our hearts so deeply that our greatest desire is to please Him. This doesn't mean we will never sin, but it does mean we should be consciously aware of our daily choices. Our aim should be to strive to honor Him by living a life worthy of the Gospel.

As the enemy makes sin look attractive we can become lured by his efforts to tempt us. Thus begins the downward spiral of rationalization and giving in, a little at a time. We may write off sin as not being in our lives if it isn't, you know, the "big" sins. We begin to tell ourselves it's really not so bad. We accept the cliche, "Don't sweat the small stuff." The seemingly "small" sins go unnoticed, yet serve as kindling to start a wildfire or as an anchor to pull us under.

The prayer of a 17th and 18th century Puritan put it this way: "Unmask me to sin's deformity, that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it. Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the person sinned against."

Here are some examples:


*Conversations with your girlfriends continue to turn toward gossip. Instead of curbing it, you enable it so you can be in the know.

*Discontentment with your husband leads to unfair comparisons to others.

*Excuses pile high for not having time to be in the Word, yet no evaluation of your schedule or priorities is made.

*Blaming others for life's disappointments becomes habit instead of humbling yourself enough to admit you might be part of the problem.

*Convincing yourself, "I'll always be this way," leaves you living in defeat.

*Treating your children like they are in the way of your "to-do list" while neglecting your responsibility to nurture, love, and spend time with them.

*Living in bondage to addiction, without belief in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform your life and enable you to walk in victory.

*Not respecting your husband as God has asked of you, thinking he has to earn your respect, continues to widen the chasm in your marriage.

*Struggling to control your spending habits, thus launching you into a pit of despair and debt.

*Obsession with physical appearance takes you down a road of insecurity while forgetting where your real security and significance comes from.


These scenarios may appear innocent, yet this is exactly how sinful seeds of destruction are planted into our heart. If gone unchecked, they can manifest themselves into situations of epic proportions. Actively resisting sin requires us to stand firm and be on our guard.

Awhile back, a seed was planted in my heart that soon began to fester. This seed of destruction: My motivation for doing things. I became tangled in the effort to do good things yet was disillusioned as to why I was doing them. I allowed others to dictate what I was suppose to be doing. I had forgotten how to say "no" and worried I would disappoint others.

This seed culminated when my life came to a breaking point. It was harried and out of sorts. The Spirit helped me realize I was out of balance. God showed me the root of my problem was that I cared more about what others thought than I did about having God's approval. He also tenderly taught me that I needed to care more about disappointing Him than others. Now, I am more conscious of my motivation for doing things.

Our verse today from James reminds us that, "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James clearly describes for us the process of temptation and sin, and the results of its progression. Understanding this will help us in our efforts to overcome sin.

Later in James 4:7 he tells us how to resist the devil. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." If we are going to actively resist the devil and his attempts, we must first submit to God. We cannot resist the devil if we are not fully yielded to God's authority. Coming under the Lordship of Christ will empower us to handle sin and temptation.

Modern day trick photography and its software is unmistakably crafty. While the world and our enemy makes sin look attractive, let's not photo shop sin. Don't fall for the enemy's ploys. Stand firm dear ones. Be on guard. Actively resist sin. Sweat the "small" stuff.


Heart Work:
Ask the Lord to show you how the enemy might be deceiving you. Identify the subtle and sly ways Satan tries to justify choices for you.

If you are entangled in sin, confess it to God and repent. Seek His forgiveness and begin the process of restoration and healing in your relationship.

Thank God for His gift of salvation through the death of His Son. Consider the agony Christ experienced in order to redeem you from your sin.


Heart Exam:
What sin in my life am I rationalizing as "not so bad"? How has the enemy twisted my perception of the ugliness of sin?

What personal sin issues should I be on the lookout for?

Heart Changing Word:
Romans 6:12-14 (NIV) "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master."

Philippians 1:27 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."

1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith."

1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."




Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.