Human Leeches

Let’s allow ourselves to be brutally honest for a moment. Well, we should always try to be honest, but I think perhaps brutal honesty may fall into a different category. And the brutal truth is, people can be like leeches.

Can you think of a person who just drains the energy and time right out of you? I can. In fact, I can think of several people. And I’ll go further into this strange world of brutal honesty by saying, I have been that “human leech” to someone else. Ouch! But that sounds so mean to say. Yes it does, but recognizing and admitting it is important.

I am not trying to say that we should all deny that people need each other. Of course we do! And there are seasons in our life when God places a specific person in our path who may desperately need us, whether he or she realizes it or not.

The reason it is so necessary to recognize how vulnerable we are to a place of “blood sucking death” is so that we can do what is vital to protect our own health and well-being. After all, how can we help others if we are…well..umm..dead?

Paul’s letter to the young church of Thessalonica (Thessalonians 1: 2-3) almost immediately points out three vital attributes of a healthy Christian. His or her works are produced by faith. His labor is prompted by love, and his endurance is inspired by hope in Jesus Christ. Wow!

Paul also reminds us in verses 4 and 5, that the power of the Holy Spirit works in our lives when we belong to Christ. And this is the key to survival in a needy world. The power is not from us. We run out quickly. But with the true power of the Holy Spirit working in our life, we are able to give more.

And when that power is combined with works of faith, labors of love and hope driven endurance, we become a model of faith to others. Paul concludes of the church in Thess. 1:7-8, ” And so you became a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia…your faith in God has become known everywhere, therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”

So we serve a God who has conquered death. He is our life source! And with his help, we can help others in time of need by sharing his life giving love that we should be daily filled with.

“Call and Response”

Perhaps you have heard of a form of singing that was introduced by African- Americans. “Call and Response” was used as a means for African slaves to communicate secretly and safely while working in the fields. This music has influenced certain styles of American music in a unique way.

Since both Jesus Christ and music has impacted my life so greatly, I find pleasure and fulfilment in reading the Psalms. I made an interesting discovery this morning while reading about the history of Psalm 24.

Written by David, this Psalm was often sung. It is believed to have been used in corporate worship at the temple. Inside the temple, one group of people would sing or ask, “Who is this King of glory?”. Then a group of people outside would respond, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

As this early form of “Call and Response” was repeated, the temple gates would be opened. This act symbolized the welcoming of God’s presence. And here is the beautiful thing about God. When we call, he responds. He is big enough to create the Universe, but he is caring enough to listen to us. He desires a relationship with each of us.

That is why he made a way to himself through his son, Jesus Christ. And that is why he gave his inspired word, the Bible for us to read. So give it a try. Call on him.

Ranking Sin

Why is it so easy to look at others’ sin and say, “That sin is such a ‘big’ sin compared to my ‘little’ one?” We humans tend to rank sin. I suppose it is because each sin has a different consequence, and some consequences can be so devastating.

Recently, I am daily reminded that, “I am just a sinner saved by grace.” The Bible teaches us that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Each of us has sin in our heart that must be dealt with. And it is important to understand that some sins, though “small” by our human definition, can lead to other sins.

Psalm 14:3 says that, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Recognizing that our hearts are sinful and that, given the circumstances, we have the potential to be just as vile as our vilest offender, allows us to see the extreme relevance of what Christ did for each of us on the cross. This recognition also points us to the need for repentance.

In the Psalms, David’s daily walk with Christ demonstrates two key actions that are repeatedly reflected in his prayers and songs. The first action is repentance. David prays for God to forgive the sins of his heart, even the ones that are unknown or unrecognized.

The second action is the fear of God. David keeps his focus on God. He recognizes and understands where his life and help comes from. Psalm 25:11-12 says, “For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.”

Even David recognized that his sin was “great”. So it is a normal human response to look at the depth of sin. But notice that, in that prayer, David was examining his own heart and actions before God. He wasn’t looking at the sins of others and comparing them to his own.

You see, the danger of ranking our sin with the sin of others is that we have taken our focus off Jesus and placed it on other human beings. We will always be able to find someone else whose sin is “bigger” than ours, even among the church. But using the shortcomings of people as an excuse not to work on our own shortcomings is a sin in and of itself, because that excuse keeps us from drawing closer to God.

The challenge to both myself and to you is to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Let us stop “ranking sin” and start repenting.