Mom just pulled the cookies out of the oven. You can smell them. She can see the look in your eyes and she offers a warning. Don’t you dare touch the cookies before dinner! She then leaves the kitchen to go take a shower as you sit, desire overtaking you. Eating the cookies is a bad idea. There’s no way to hide the missing cookie, but they smell like chocolate drops of heaven. They’re so fresh. They’re probably still a little bit gooey. You just want one. What do you do? I’m sure you wouldn’t touch the cookies, but I would. And I wouldn’t eat just one either.
We sometimes spend all our energy focusing on what we shouldn’t do that we miss out on what we should be doing. Instead of just not eating cookies, we could have been outside doing something fun. The cookies wouldn’t have even been a temptation if had been placing our focus on something more productive.
There are moments when I wonder if the church isn’t guilty of this. We put a lot of emphasis on working to avoid sin and that’s not necessarily wrong. We should avoid sin because sin is bad. Sin is harmful. Sin separates us from God. We live in a culture that is filled with sin and we know that to live for Jesus means to put to death our sinful nature. Yet people in the church keep sinning (sorry to burst your bubble if you thought church people were the picture of perfection). So what do we do seeing the continual struggle with sin? We keep talking about sin.
Can you imagine a life where all you ever focus on is your faults? Can you imagine if your parents only ever focused on your faults? Maybe some of you don’t have to imagine, you experienced it. It’s a toxic life to only ever think about your shortcomings. At the moment of repentance, God forgives us. Completely wipes our slate clean. We truly are a new creation completely made in the image of God. Our focus shouldn’t be about our level of goodness or our sin, it should be about His goodness to forgive our sin.
Isaiah 1:16-17 (NLT) Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. 17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
I love this because it is a two part process. One, stop sinning. Two, do good. A huge part of our mission as Christians is to help people. There is a world of need all around us and we don’t spend near as much time focusing on how we can help meet those needs as we do our own sin.
I believe that part of learning to not sin is learning what you should be doing. If your whole life is focused on not doing something and you are constantly fixated on NOT doing that one thing, guess what you end up doing? That ONE thing you’re not supposed to do! However, when you know your purpose, your mind is consumed by it. You become passionate and begin to dream of ways to live it out. We need to stop focusing on our weaknesses. Stop focus on our faults. Instead, focus on the mission.
There is a world of need. Watch the news, there is such great spiritual need and we are the only ones equipped meet those needs. We have the Gospel of Jesus. We have the truth. We have been given the assignment of spreading that truth everywhere we go. How much of your thought life has been devoted to carrying out that mission? How much of your prayer life has been devoted to carrying out that mission? How many physical needs in our community have you reached recently?
Sometimes people aren’t interested in Jesus because they’ve never experienced the love of Jesus. I’ve been pondering lately, what can I do to show people the love of Jesus? I’d like to ask that question to you. What can you do to show people the love of Jesus?
We all have unique gifts and abilities. I’m not just talking about singing or painting. You are uniquely qualified to meet a need in someone’s life that I could never meet. Think about who you are. Think about what you’re good at. Think about the resources you have at your disposal. Maybe you have a lot of resources, or maybe you don’t have much. Maybe you can think of lots you’re good at, maybe you can’t. Either way, I want to challenge you to begin to pray and ask the Lord how you can begin to use your life, abilities, resources to meet the needs of other people.
We have work to do. We need to make sure our focus is where it should be. I’m a big believer, we shouldn’t sin. I’m also a big believer that when our focus is where it should be, loving the Lord and fulfilling His purposes, we will be empowered to avoid sin all the more.
Let’s change our life mission. Instead of “Don’t sin” let’s strive to “Do good”.