Do you ever feel as though the person you project, and the person you really are simply do not match?
Of course you do.
Any Christian, any person for that matter, has experienced this, and lived out their lives this way. Pretending to be someone else can just be easier sometimes. The person you’re projecting to others never appears to struggle with offense, jealousy, or pride, and is in fact contradictory to the real you; the you that hides from God, and sins in silence and behind closed doors, all the while projecting to the world, or maybe just their church, the image of “God-fearing woman (or man) of God.”
In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Paul puts it like this,
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
It’s clear that Paul was warning Timothy about unbelievers who would come into the church to oppose it, however, as I read verse 5, I was stopped with a sinking feeling.
Have I become so self-involved and self-focused that I have been “maintaining the appearance of godliness, but denying its power,” denying God’s power?
Yes, not overtly, but essentially yes. I have held onto offenses, both real and imagined, against me, and let it nestle itself in my heart. I have taken on the appearance of “good Christian woman” while allowing those feelings of offense and pride to hold firm in my heart. So as I read and re-read this passage it was like getting the wind knocked out of me.
I can equate that feeling with a time in the fourth grade when I was playing kickball. The ball bounced towards me and I kicked it. As it soared though the air, I took off running. Feeling super pumped, I rounded 1st then 2nd base when suddenly, WHAM! I fell flat on my back and lost all my momentum. Major hit to 10 year old ego. I want to say I got a base hit, but in all honesty I think I got tagged out but that’s totally beside the point.
In both instances, I had experienced the feeling of the wind being knocked out of me. It was in a physical state in kickball, and a spiritual one as I read Paul’s words. But the effect was basically the same.
As I took in the passage, my brain began to process it, and it was honestly kind of shocking. I knew the truth in the back of my mind, but didn’t fully realize how much I had let those sinful feelings fester. Webster defines “fester” as, “becoming worse or more intense, especially through longterm neglect or indifference.” In my case, it was indifference, and not acknowledging the truth.
That definition sounds awful, and when I hear that word, fester, I can’t help but think of a disgusting wound in need of serious medical help. And that’s what it was, in a spiritual sense. A repulsive, and offensive wound. It started as my offense towards people, fellow believers, and it ended as an offense to the God of heaven. Oh the irony!
Now I have to ask, but is there offense within your own heart that you’ve knowingly, or even unknowingly, let take root? Offense is a tricky thing, because it starts small, but can quickly and easily become a problem that’s beyond your own abilities to fix. Maybe you’re like me, putting up the front of godliness, when there’s a disgusting mess inside your heart, and maybe you can’t even completely see the problem because it’s too close. Or maybe, you’re wholly aware of it and willingly letting it grow and fester.
If I could jump out of this screen and shake you and exhort you to TURN AND REPENT, I would. Seriously. Holding onto offense can seem like you’re holding the power and it can feel good for a time, but stop. Please, stop. Turn and repent because Jesus has no parameter regarding our sin, whether in secret or openly, or completely or partially knowingly. He just asks that we repent and follow Him.
Now this is where the good news, the best news comes. Matthew 9:12-13 says,
"But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Jesus came to seek sinners, to associate Himself with sinners, and to save sinners."
News flash: WE are sinners. Jesus came to seek US, and save US from our sins. And 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now the hard part. Easy in word, but difficult in execution. REPENT. No matter what kind of sin we partake in, repent of it. Fall on your knees and ask our gracious Lord to forgive you. And He will. Every time, without fail, because He loves you, and He saves you. And He is faithful.
This is not new news for us Christians, but it is still the best news. So dear sister, I urge you to turn away from whatever sin that’s in your heart and give it over to Him, the One who seeks you, and saves you. He is good, and He is kind, and He will redeem you.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” // Titus 2:11-14