I think we all know people who, for one reason or another, can’t seem to stop doing bad things. And I think these people fall into one of two categories: are trying to stop and are not trying to stop.
There really is no advice to be handed out to the latter category of not-trying-to-stop’pers because they seemingly don’t want to stop and therefore don’t want or need anyone’s advice. Still, I can’t keep my mouth shut, so to that group I will say this: Please be careful. With your heart. With the hearts of those around you. And know this, Jesus still loves you.
But it’s the other group that I really want to address today. Because I know a few people who fall into this bunch and it leaves me scratching my head.
Why, really, are there some people who can’t seem to get ahold of their lives and just do the better things even though they have the Spirit of Jesus living inside of them?
And, the follow-up question that begs to be asked: What can these people do about their condition?
First, the why. I have no idea really. I have some theories, but that’s all they are. Sometimes an addiction is involved and that takes over in ways that no matter how many AlAnon meetings I’ve attended or books I read, I will never truly understand how a brain is chemically altered after years of self-abuse. Sometimes someone seems to have bigger holes to fill, larger needs and wants and cravings to try to meet, than the average person. And sometimes, maybe, in ways I can’t comprehend, the Lord may have allowed a hardening of a heart as he did with Pharaoh, or perhaps he allowed his seed to fall on rocky ground. All of this truly is a mystery to me…why some Christians struggle with their own sin so much more than others.
I need to be clear here: we all struggle with our sin. Those who say they don’t are calling God a liar; or they are too full of pride; or they are in utter denial. But I’m talking about those who are stuck in sin patterns and no matter what they do or how long they try, they can’t seem to fully break free.
But secondly, what can they do? My gut instinct is to take them by the shoulders, look them in the eye, and yell, JUST STOP MAKING SUCH BAD CHOICES EVERY DAY! But I have a feeling that if they could just stop, they would have just stopped a very long time ago.
One thing that I’m relearning is that it’s not so much about what we do as it is about the condition of our hearts. This doesn’t mean sin all you want because the grace is never-ending. And the point is also very true that what we do and say is an overflow of our heart, so we must take note of what we do and say.
But I think for a person in this kind of situation – doing things he doesn’t want to be doing, constantly – pride absolutely must be swallowed, help must be beckoned, and the heart condition must be examined. Deeply. Ruthlessly. Sometimes, humiliating-ly.
You can tell someone til your blue in the face to put down that drink, that cigarette, that drug. To turn off that computer with all that pornography. To keep their pants on, pardon my crassness. To stop yelling. To stop hitting. To stop lying. To stop being manipulating. To stop blaming everyone else but themselves.
And yet until they look honestly and unflinchingly at their own heart and what is going on deep down and what they truly feel and what they truly fear and all that they do on a regular basis to fill themselves up or to numb their pain, no instructions will matter. It will take honesty. It will take asking Jesus, maybe a thousand times, to help, to heal, to reach deep down and renovate and recover what can’t seem to right itself. It will take asking for help from other people when you so desperately want to fix this on your own, when you so desperately want to hide who you really are, when you so desperately want no one to know what you really feel and all of your failures and hurt. It will take surrender. It will take courage. It will take grace.
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