Thursday, July 21, 2005

The word "struggle"

“I’ve been struggling lately.”
“Last week was a struggle.”
“For the past few months I’ve been struggling with…”

At least once a week I hear (and probably say) some variation of the quotes above. I never thought anything of it…of course we struggle with stuff. We live in a fallen world and deal with indwelling sin…it is only natural that we will struggle with it, right?

I don't think so.

I believe scripture bears this out…and I know I have been taught that it is possible for us (through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit) to be holy as He is holy, that is…to be tempted by sin and yet not sin…consistently…even always. Yet my friends and I continually use this struggle word and think that is to a degree OK or expected. We say it without a thought of what we are really saying, which is “I’ve been sinning lately.” “Last week, I was defeated by sin many times.” “For the past few months I’ve been habitually sinning.”

Pretty sobering when you put it that way.

This morning I read a devotion that deals with this very topic. It is from Elisabeth Elliot and reads:

You Can't Keep Both Eyes
A young man was delivered from a life of self-destruction in the form of drug abuse. He turned from his old ways, but of course was pursued by the enemy and tempted back. It was clear to him that he could not afford to be lenient with himself in allowing the least indulgence in the old habit. One day he said to his pastor, "Don't ever allow me to use the word 'struggle.' Every time I use it I am excusing disobedience, I am really preferring to 'struggle' rather than to quit."

Jesus made this necessity sharply clear when He said, "If it is your eye that is your undoing, tear it out and fling it away; it is better to enter into life with one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell" (Mt 5:29).

To struggle--that is, to allow a "little bit" of sin, to be cautious with ourselves, tolerant of a certain amount of plain disobedience, is to try to keep both eyes.

Jesus’ solution to sinful behavior was amputation…you don’t get much more radical than that!! Shouldn’t we then be equally as radical in eradicating the offensive things from our lives…shouldn’t we then practice spiritual amputation?

That verse prompts me to ask myself…

What do I look at that offends?
Cut it off!

What do I do in the course of a day that offends?
Cut it off!

What do I say that offends?
Cut it off!

Lord let me not continue in sin…let me not continue to pretty it up by using words like “struggle, stumble or fall”, let me see it as you do, call it by its true name, and cut it out of my life! Only you can produce Holiness and only by your power can I be faithful. Be strong, for I am weak and help me to be Holy as you are Holy. To speak rightly and obey…all the time…without hesitation…without interruption, for your glory and your Name’s sake.

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