Grow up!

Three men sat at the table for Bible study at the county jail. One was about 35, another in his early 40’s, and the third, around 55 years of age. They are just average guys, not career criminals. They have jobs, families, and mortgages. They were all in jail for the first time, locked up for the same offense – driving while intoxicated. In addition to sitting in jail for 6 months, they are facing 10 year suspensions of their driving privileges in the state of NJ. Each one of them told me that they were legally intoxicated when they were arrested, and, each one of them had an excuse. “Everybody stops for a couple of beers after work!” “After you drink a couple, you start to lose count!” “Even cops sometimes drive when they have had one too many.” “My lawyer did a terrible job representing me.” “A friend came into the bar just as I was getting ready to leave and I had a couple more beers.” “Pitchers were being served for just $3. I just had to have two at that price.” After listening to their stories, I asked this question – “Don’t you have any responsibility for your actions?”

Blaming others when we get ourselves in a bad spot is a human trait as old as history. The opening chapters of Genesis record the Creation story – God’s provision of a beautiful home for Adam and Eve where they had everything they needed and wanted for a good life. There was just one restriction – “Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that stands in the center of the Garden!” The Deceiver showed up one day and asked, “Did God really say that you were not to eat from any tree in the Garden?” When Eve engaged him in conversation, she was making a mistake- one that proved spiritually fatal. She eventually chose to disobey God’s command, presented Adam with her decision and he joined her in disobedience. When they finally were confronted by God – each pointed the finger of blame elsewhere. Adam told God, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12, NLT) Indirectly, he blames God! Eve, likewise, passed the buck, blaming the serpent deceiver. God would have none of it and, in the end, each player in the drama of sin, paid the price for participating. The Serpent was cursed, Eve was given the pain of child-birth and subservience to Adam, and Adam was left to deal with a world that frustrated his every attempt at work, weeds and thistles growing in his garden.

Then came the Second Adam! Jesus Christ came to reverse that Curse, to restore us to our destiny as God’s own children. “To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:12-14, NLT) But to receive our inheritance of salvation in Christ, we must acknowledge our part in our sins, accept responsibility for our choices that lead us to disobedience, and ask God to forgive us for our rebellion – without excuse. Repentance is required! It is different from regret. Each of my friends in jail regrets getting caught, but none of them is ready to repent – to accept responsibility for what he did and to turn around and travel in the other direction!

We want God’s peace and we want to know that He is providing for our every need – but many of us want these things on our own terms. We refuse to deal with our disobedience. We won’t listen carefully to the Spirit when He calls us to change our ways. We’re full of excuses and rationalizations for what we do, why we did it, and why we will do it again tomorrow. Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you will perish!” Believer, are you struggling with some sin in your life? Stop giving yourself a pass! Name it with the same name that God gives it – sin. Don’t let yourself off the hook by pointing to your parents, your spouse, your neighborhood, your …. well, that list goes on ad nauseam!

Grow up and accept responsibility for change. And here is what God promises – “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. “ (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message) When we face up to our spiritual bankruptcy, Jesus steps in and says, “Let me pay the price!” And the Spirit comes with new life, which leads us into blessings we could not have imagined even existed when we were living in excuses for our sinfulness.

Ponder this word from the Word today as you give thanks.
“With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back.
” (2 Corinthians 3:12, The Message) “They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, The Message)
Thanks be to God. Amen.

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