Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write something AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (10/02/14)
TITLE: The Fog of Hipocrisy
By Rachel Malcolm
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Legalism is often a response to our sin. I lacked self-control in countless areas and rule making had the appearance holiness. It started with forbidding myself the reading of novels—even Christian ones. When a book captured my imagination, I would neglect my family and my home until I’d finished the story. I didn’t look to Jesus to overcome my sin. I made a rule instead: thou shall not read fiction.
Legalism can also be an extreme response to the sinfulness around us. Immodesty was rampant, and the church was far from exempt. Part of me would be horrified at how women flaunted their bodies, and part of me wanted to look and dress like that too. Another rule came to the rescue: I would only wear long skirts and dresses. No pants allowed.
At that point, I had lost my discernment for truth. I turned to books and magazines that encouraged legalism and decided that it was wrong to limit the number of children I would have.
The next step was to wear a head covering. This was the hardest step of all. It wasn’t like I was a part of a community of Amish people or old-order Mennonites. My friends looked like anyone else, and I was wearing ankle length skirts and wrapping my head in a scarf.
I thought it was a sacrifice I was making for God. I assumed that the pain and loneliness that I felt in being strange and different was pleasing to God. Instead I was destroying my relationships with a condemning spirit. My relationship with God was suffering most of all. I had cast off Christ’s sacrifice to cover my sin and was trying to make my own way.
My husband and I met with a pastor friend for counselling when our marriage hit a dangerous low. I was convinced that our marriage problems were due to Kevin’s anger and sin. There was a rift between us that grew wider and darker every day.
We talked for a couple of hours and the next day we each received a letter. In love, the letter pointed out my condemning spirit. I pressed my hand against my mouth to keep from crying out loud and let the tears drip from my chin.
It hurt to read those words, but I knew it was true. Squeezing my husband’s hand, I bowed my head and whispered a prayer. “Father, I’m sorry for my self-righteousness and for being judgmental towards Kevin and others. Please forgive me. Please heal me.”
My legalistic tendencies were dealt a heavy blow, but the journey out of the fog took years. It happened in the reverse order of my decent. First I discarded the head covering at my husband’s request. Then I felt that God wanted me to be content with my six children. I even realized how ridiculous and immodest wearing only skirts and dresses could be—when getting in and out of a boat or climbing a ladder for instance. And just recently, I let myself read novels again.
I still struggle with my sin, I always will, but I’ve learned that the joy of the Lord is my strength. There is no power in the abundance of rules. The ability to say no to sin comes from my dependency on Christ—the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
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