TITLE: What Are Your Stumbling Blocks?
By Walter Kahler
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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 the strength necessary to handle anything. Even when experiencing the power of Christ our human psyche blinds us from the answers. This has been the case since Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
Sin is tough to talk about because the unpleasant part of our being is exposed. Who wants to see the subtle ways pride infest 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 painful. We are reminded of our wrongful behavior. It is an uncomfortable feeling to know we have faults. Sinning is embedded in our character. God wants us to realize that sins are the 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. Mathew 7: 3-4 “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”. (NKJV) These planks are the sins we commit.
Now that Jesus has explained the need for us to see our sinfulness then what actions can we take in carrying this out. The answer to that question lies in our personal development with Christ. None of us is exactly alike nor is our experience in salvation the same. These differences are not by mistake but designed by God. However, there are some common steps all of us can apply.
So, where can we start? As Christians, we know praying is powerful. Prayer is practiced all over the world and has been around for centuries. Every one of us has been touched by it and have bared witness to the powerfulness of God’s responses. These incredible experiences are the backbone of faith that builds an unshakeable trust in our Messiah. We can use prayer to ask God to help us look at our sins. As we formulate the habit of relying upon God then we find the courage to become fearless and in return our ability to see our faults becomes the steppingstone to a deeper consciousness with Christ. This type of interaction with God unlocks an amazing wisdom about ourselves, and we gain a whole new perspective about our existence.
Another useful tool in reviewing our sins is writing about them. Keeping a journal is a good demonstration of action because we are physically exerting ourselves. 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. God will help, and it may take a prayer or two before you can start.
What is the objective of writing about our sins? The main purpose is to identify the stumbling blocks preventing us from finding the difference God makes in our attitudes and behaviors. The better we are at finding out the ways we act and react to life on its terms, the less likely we will cause harm to ourselves and neighbors. In the business world, companies constantly take cycle counts 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 lives are like that too. Excessive sinning keeps us unprotected and makes us vulnerable. We need to be aware of how we are presenting our saved lives to the world. Building a personal relationship with God includes looking inside 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 own skin. Christ grants us the ability to be useful, helpful and purposeful. However, sometimes we step out of bounds and begin taking credit for these 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? Does my intelligence place 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 prejudice? 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 in God’s eyes we are all equal.
Anger is an emotion embedded in all of us, and we cannot avoid it. When we are mad there is usually someone else involved. 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 I have no control over? Maybe you have some different ways at 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 riddled with sexual misconduct. In today’s society there is a lot of discussions about sex and many different views about its intended purpose. Most of these concepts are to say it frankly wrong. Many of the so called experts on this matter leave out the main answer to its rightfulness which is God. God created us and 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 part 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 I am 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 fantasies? Lust brings on unwanted pregnancies. And unconceivable abortions. Writing about our sex lives allow us to gain a better picture of how we are engaging in it. God is the judge of our sexual morals, and it pleases Him when we can see the way we fall short of His guidance. Following Christ’s commands we stay in partnership with God and sexual wisdom has been added to our character.
These are only three of the Seven Cardinal Sins discussed. The remaining four have been left for you to ponder over. Christ is not concerned in how we look at our sins but that we are following His instructions of doing it. Finding 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.
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