Below is something I read this morning by Rick Warren, in his daily devotional series. The message is an old lesson, but still a major obstacle for many believers.
We may want to relate with the world so that we can understand them and minister to them, but we soon cross the thin line between relating and becoming… Jesus made friends with sinners and converted them, and warned us against self-righteousness and hypocrisy, which He referred to as the leaven of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1, Matt 16:6), who thought they were holier than others and didn’t associate with ‘sinners’. He later prayed for the disciples He left behind, saying: “I do not pray that You will take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
However, He had also previously commanded that we should be the light and salt of the earth by being different from them through righteous living (Matt 5:16). This is not a contradiction. You see, we are ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, just as Jesus was, and we will win people over, not through condemnation, but through conviction (when we live lives worthy of modelling). So even though we are meant to remain in the world and relate with worldly people (1 Cor 5:9-11), we must always be prayerful, and never let our guard down, lest we start believing in their lies and following their ways.
This is the ongoing battle for the mind and of the spirit, as we remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12). It is hard to stay in the world, and not be stained by it. Through our relationships and the media culture, our salt can lose its flavour, as Jesus warned. That is why it is important to know how to guard your mind, while still being a living witness in the world. Read what Rick has to say…
Our minds control everything. They influence our thoughts that affect our feelings, and our feelings affect our actions. It all starts in the mind.
You are not responsible for every little stray thought that flits or passes through your mind from conversations you overhear by accident or things that you see by accident.
What you are responsible for are the thoughts you choose to hold on to and go over and over in your mind. This is an area of irresponsibility even for many long-time Christians.
I know a lot of people who are true believers in Christ, but they’re watching trashy TV, listening to trash radio, and reading trashy magazines and novels.
Whatever you put into your mind is inevitably going to come out in your behavior and your beliefs. It weakens you and it weakens your values because you’ve become accustomed to it. When things don’t bother you any more that is a warning light that you’ve already passed the threshold.
One of the ways Satan tries to get sin and deviant behavior acceptable is to get you to laugh at it. Once you’ve laughed, your barriers have lowered. If Satan can get you laughing at something that is wrong or sinful, you’ve already lost the battle. Sin is not funny. It put Jesus on the cross.
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