So much of the news lately has revolved around sexual assault allegations. I don’t know who did what or what’s true and what’s not. What I do know is that it’s a sad commentary on where we are as a society. To me, each case and scenario is very telling as to what is important in the world today. One well known actor was sentenced to prison just days ago for sexually assaulting a woman and several other women made allegations of the same nature against him too. I can think of four very influential men in the television industry who lost their high paying jobs because of sexual indiscretions against women. This is slowly becoming an epidemic as more allegations seem to surface almost daily.
So, where do we go from here? How do we put a stop to this type of behavior? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do believe that we must get to the root of the problem. I believe in these cases of sexual indiscretions that the root of the problem is lust. It’s clear to me that these men go from looking and lusting to making unwanted advances toward women. A man who is not trying to control lust is a high risk for acting out in some predatory way. We all, men and women, must understand that it matters how we look at others and the thoughts we allow to linger in our mind.
I think we can all learn a lot about how to handle lust from Job. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin”(Job 31:1)? A “gaze” is a lingering lengthy look that leads to lust. Job literally made an agreement with his eyes that he wouldn’t look lustfully at a woman. You may think that sounds silly, but, Job’s plan was straightforward, easy and effective. Every Christian every day should make a covenant with his or her eyes not to look inappropriately at others. Make that agreement and ask God for help and strength. Sexual assault allegations about Job never surfaced, because he took this matter seriously and made proper preparations. It’s time we be like Job and do the same.
Do your prayers consist of a list of things that you desperately need God’s help with? At times, do we view God as a big genie in the sky that we take our requests to? Don’t get me wrong, God loves us so much that He wants to hear from us even if our prayers come in the form of requests. The requests are fine, God can handle them and wants to hear our requests. But, I tend to believe that our prayers should consist of something deeper than just our requests and desires.
I wonder will you pray the prayer that David prayed? “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”(Psalm 139:23-24)! I think our prayers should challenge us and stretch our faith at times. The idea of God searching me and finding any grievous way then leading me in His way challenges me and stretches my faith. This may be a hard prayer to pray as it lays us bare before our Lord, but I’m convinced that we should desire the changes in our lives that a prayer like this can bring. I don’t know about you, but I want my prayer life to continually improve and lead me to grow spiritually. I challenge us all to take our requests to God, but let’s not allow our prayers to only be about our desires and needs.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”(Col.3:12-13). The idea of bearing with someone carries a negative connotation. If we have to bear with someone that typically means the situation is not positive. We bear with others at times of conflict and disagreement. As uncomfortable as this can be, Christians are called to bear with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Since none of us are perfect and at times we say and do things that we shouldn’t, we definitely need to understand more about bearing with our brothers and sisters.
In Colossians 3:12, before he ever mentions “bearing with one another”, Paul gives attention to some character qualities that Christians should possess. “Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience” are characteristics that will help us to bear with our brothers and sisters. In fact, I believe you’ll find it very difficult to bear with someone if you don’t possess and practice these qualities. Normally the times we need to bear with others are high stress and difficult, so compassion and patience are always essential. Remember, nobody is perfect so let’s all clothe ourselves with these qualities Paul mentions and always be willing to bear with our brothers and sisters even in the most difficult circumstances.
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the feelings of the weak, and not to please ourselves”(Rom.15:1).
“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”(Rom.1:14-16). There’s no doubt that Paul was a man of strong convictions. Three different convictions are mentioned in the above text. Paul was convicted about his obligation to all lost people, his eagerness to preach the gospel and not being ashamed of the gospel.
A conviction is a strongly held belief. I love Paul’s convictions. Honestly, I believe all Christians should possess these same convictions Paul had. The church and the world benefits if all Christians are convicted about their obligation to lost people. What if Christians were “eager” to share the gospel message of salvation with others? If only Christians lived every day unashamed of the gospel and their relationship with God. Do your personal convictions align with Paul’s? I can only imagine the difference a world of convicted Christians could make.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”(Mt.28:19-20).