Thursday, February 12, 2015

What are Your Stumbling Blocks?

   Quite often, when a particular issue goes unresolved, there is a blockage. Living a saved life does not eliminate the truth of our existence. Faithfully following Christ by applying the principles of His teachings will provide you the strength necessary to handle anything. Even when understanding the power of Christ our human psyche blinds us from the answers.

   Sin is tough to talk about because it’s unpleasant and painful. Who wants to see the subtle ways pride penetrates our hearts? Why look at anger? What about lust? How about greed? Who cares to admit they are sometimes envious? What good will come from reviewing gluttony? Why bother seeing sloth?

 Observing the sins we commit and how they affect us is unattractive. They remind us of our wrongful behavior. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to know we have faults. Sins are part of our character. And God wants us to realize sins are stumbling blocks preventing us from His grace.

   Let’s take a look back in time when Jesus was on earth concerning sin. In the Gospel according to Matthew; Christ left us this command:

 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye”. “Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your eye.”  Mathew 7: 3-4 (NKJV) 

Those planks are the sins we commit.

   Now that Jesus has explained the need for you to see your sinfulness, then what actions can you take in carrying it out. The answer to that question lies in your personal development with Christ. None of us is exactly alike, nor is our experience with salvation. Those differences are not by mistake, but designed by God. However, there are some steps all of us can apply.

 So, where can you start?

   As a Christian, you know praying is powerful. Every one of us has been touched by it and bear witness to the powerfulness of God’s responses. You can use prayer to ask God to help you look at your sins.

  By formulating the habit of relying upon Jesus,  you will find the courage to become fearless and in return your ability to see your faults becoming stepping stones to a deeper consciousness with Christ. This type of interaction with God unlocks an incredible wisdom about you, and a whole new perspective on your existence emerges.

   Another useful tool for reviewing your sins is writing about them. Keeping a journal is a good demonstration of action because you are physically exerting yourself. There is something beautiful that happens when the pen hits the paper. You might not like writing or have never tried it. Do not let this deter you from at least giving it an honest effort.

   What is the objective of writing about your sins?

    The main purpose is to identify the stumbling blocks preventing you from finding the difference God makes in your attitudes and behaviors. The better you are at finding out the ways you act and react (good or bad) to life on its terms, the less likely you will cause harm to yourself or your neighbors.

   In the business world, companies continuously take inventories to keep up with their products. They do this to discover the items to keep or discontinue. Companies who are unaware of those import facts go bankrupt. Our saved life is like that too. Being blinded from excessive sinning keeps us unprotected and makes us vulnerable to relentless suffering.

   We need to be aware of how we are presenting our saved lives to the world. Building a personal relationship with God includes looking into our hearts. None of us likes misbehaving and by having tangible proof of the way we are both good and bad leads to a better way of living.

   Coming up with the list of sins to write about may seem difficult. So, let us revisit those seven sins listed earlier. 

   We will start with pride

   God wants us to feel confident about ourselves. He wants us to be secure in our skin. Christ grants us the ability to be useful, helpful and purposeful. However, sometimes we step out of bounds and begin taking credit for those God-given attributes.

   Questions about pride may run like this: Have I been selfish? Do I boast? Do I judge others? Do I feel superior to anyone? Do I feel my intelligence places me above others? Am I intolerant? Am I consumed with achieving my wants? Do I bring attention to my accomplishments? Do I expect something in return when I help others? Am I prejudiced? 

   Answering these types of questions will disclose the lesser way pride takes over our minds and souls. The antidote to pride is humility. The more humble we become, the better we are at knowing we are all equal in God’s eyes.

   Anger is an emotion embedded in all of us, and we cannot avoid it. When we are mad, there is usually someone else involved.  And holding onto anger makes us ineffective in spreading the message of Christ.

   Tackling anger could go like this: Am I resentful? Do I get mad easily? What are the circumstances that make me angry? When others harm me do I stay sore? Do I want to get back at others when they hurt me? Do I throw a temper tantrum when I do not get my way? Does my anger reach the point of rage? Do I believe anger is justified? Can I easily forgive others? Do I want to hold onto the incident from other people’s injurious acts? Do I become frustrated over things that are out of my control?

  Maybe you have some different ways of looking at anger, and that is precisely the action Christ wants us to take so we can find the planks in our eyes. We need to be as searching as possible, and it matters not the way we do it. But the importance of reviewing anger is to see how it affects our minds, bodies, and spirits. Once God reveals to us the wrong ways we handle anger, then we understand how ineffective it actual is. Anger is the blocker of forgiveness.  

Sex is a troubling subject. The world is full of sexual misconduct. In today’s society, there are a lot of discussions about sex and many different views about its intended purpose. Most of these concepts are saying it frankly wrong. Many of the so called experts on this matter leave out God in their views because they fail to understand He created our sexual drive.

   God made us partners in creating a life. He allows us to experience the physical part of love in such a unique way. The joy on the faces of parents giving birth to newborns is not by accident, but a response from God’s unconditional love. He wants us to populate the earth. He also has given us specific instructions on how to exemplify it. Sexual difficulties arise when we move away from God and use this incredible gift as a means of selfish gain.

   When lust drives our sexual desire, the results are disastrous. Reviewing sexual behavior may look like this: Do I use sex as a means to make me feel good? Am I unconcerned with my spouse’s feelings regarding sexual activity? Do I try to talk my spouse into trying unconventional sex? Do I dominate my spouse? Am I promiscuous? How do I behave when  denied sex? Am I dissatisfied with sex? Was I sexually active before becoming married? Have I cheated on my spouse? How do I react to my sexual frustrations?

Lust brings on unwanted pregnancies. And even more inconceivable abortion. Writing about our sex lives allow us to gain a better picture of how we are aligning it with God’s intended purpose. God is the judge of our sexual morals, and it pleases Him when we can see the way we fall short of His guidance. By following Christ’s commands, we stay in partnership with God and the correct way of experiencing sex is added to our character.

   I have learned a lot about myself from taking, a journal of my sins. One of the benefits from this process is finding the sin behind the motive. For example, one of my brothers is a surgeon and I felt entitled to a share of his wealth and by writing about the way I reacted to him the sin behind the motive was envy. Another dividend has been seeing a pattern of recurring sins in situations that have a tendency to repeat themselves. As a result of this exercise a desire to get to know Christ better and better has emerged.

   These are only three of the Seven Cardinal Sins we have discussed. The others are for you to ponder over. Christ isn’t concerned with how we look at our sins, but that we are following His instructions in doing so. Discovering our stumbling blocks is only the first step in resolving excessive sinning. In order to continue following God’s command, then we need to confess them and make amends for our wrongfulness. When we take these rightful acts, then our hearts have become pure opening the door to true forgiveness.  

                                            How do you identify your stumbling blocks?