Charlie is a Christian who attends church weekly and duteously pays his tithe. Each week he helps out at the local soup kitchen. He frequently calls to check on friends who are sick. As Charlie watches the evening news this day, the lead story is about a police officer on trial for murder. The second story is about a governor accused by several women of inappropriate conduct. Charlie bows his head and prays, “O God, I thank you that I am not like these sinful men.” Across town, another active Christian named Jeff watches the same news and thinks “There but by the grace of God go I.” Jeff prays “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Which of these prayers are you most likely to pray? Please read more.
Schadenfreude is a complex emotion where, rather than feeling sympathy, one takes pleasure from watching someone’s misfortune. Unfortunately, many Christians take delight in seeing someone else caught and/or punished for doing something wrong. Jesus tells us we are quick to see the splinter in someone else’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own eye. The fact is, we are all flawed and broken, and we are all in need of God’s mercy.
Today is part four of our nine-part series leading up to the 500th 4th Day Letter. In the first three parts of this series, I pointed out that we can serve God, and grow His Kingdom by acknowledging that along with everyone one else, we need to be saved. We have a story to tell. We need to proclaim to the world the good news of God’s mercy. Today, we will take a deeper look at what it means to be broken and/or wounded.
The opening paragraph above was a modern-day version of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee gloats over his righteousness while the tax collector laments his brokenness. The Pharisee takes delight in seeing himself as better than others. His pride blinds him to his own faults. You and I must be careful not to fall in this Pharisaical trap. Jesus tells us that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Collectively speaking, our brokenness and wounds are anything in life that clouds our relationship with God. We are broken by our own sins and we are wounded by the sins of others and/or by merely living in a broken world.
Let’s first examine brokenness. Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” Romans 13:11-14 challenges us to throw off the darkness of this world and put on the armor of light. Paul summons us to conduct ourselves properly and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say that I frequently fall short of his teaching.
It is easy to overlook the spiritual reality in which we live. There is a spiritual war going on for our soul. Gal: 5:16-19, 22-23 makes it clear that The Spirit which resides in us is at odds with our flesh. If we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives, we will not satisfy the desires of our human nature. If we satisfy the desires of our human nature, we will live at odds with God’s will for us. Paul tells us in Romans 7:14 that we are enslaved to sin. Each of us, even though we are followers of Jesus, still remain a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in our body.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus called the people to “repent and be changed.” If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit we are much better at repenting than we are at being changed. If we fail to repent and change, our sins become habits and vices, which create a distance between us and God.
We all know that Jesus came to forgive our sins, but we must also remember that our sins leave us with scars. We often find it hard to forgive ourselves. As a result, we fail to experience the inner peace our Lord came to give us.
Now let’s turn our attention to our wounds. Separate and apart from the brokenness we cause ourselves through sin, we are also wounded by forces outside of ourselves. Others hurt us when they sin against us, and we are frequently wounded by unexplainable events of this broken world of ours. Death, disease, and heartaches are inflicted on us for reasons we cannot understand. We must commend to memory the words of Psalm 34:19, “The righteous cry out, the LORD hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.”
The cause of our fractured relationship with God doesn’t matter. Whether we are broken by sin or wounded by the world, we still experience a feeling of separation from God. In order to repair these fractures, the first thing we must do is admit that we are broken and wounded. Unfortunately, most of us spend a lifetime hiding or denying our flaws and wounds. Next week we will discovery why.
Heavenly Father, my sins have left me broken and scarred and living in this world has often left me wounded and in pain. Lord, I find great solace in knowing that you will never abandon me. Please forgive my sins and keep me always in the palm of your hand. Amen!
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There is still time to win your free book. Many of you have already submitted your suggestions. I am writing a yearly devotional book. I am in the process of selecting 52 of the past 4th Day Letters, one for each week of the year. Each one will be presented in the book with a series of questions to reflect on for a week. I am asking for your input. Please write to me and tell me what your favorite 4th Day Letters are. I will randomly draw the names of ten people who respond, and they will receive a FREE copy of the book as soon as it is published. Entries must be received no later than May 28, 2021. The ten winners will be announced on June 1, 2021.