If your identity is tied to man’s praise, you’ll be eternally discontent. People are fickle. They’re here today and gone tomorrow. They’re for you one day, against you the next. They love you when you agree with them, dislike you when you don’t.
Yet, we love human praise, at least I do. Exhibit A: Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook. While I love social media, they’re also platforms that perpetuate flattery. You post pictures about your life hoping the world will “like” it. Who cares if it’s not the real you? You need the approval. So, even if you need 30 minutes to find that perfect selfie, it’s worth the time.
Jesus, however, didn’t need the praise and glory of men. He didn’t care what they thought. His only concern was doing the will of God. This attitude is what the world is desperate to see.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to point people to Jesus if you need their approval.
And when you need the approval of others, your life will have more ups and downs than the Goliath at Six Flags in Atlanta.
I rode that beast. I know.
Comfort might be the patriarch of the “church approved” sins family. When the church becomes comfortable, Christianity starts to die.
Christians must be extremely intentional with their thoughts and actions to avoid comfort. If not, you become resistant to change. You start making secondary issues primary. You begin to see the mission as catering to insiders rather than reaching outsiders.
And here’s the thing about the sin of comfort. Once it shows up, it’s extremely difficult to remove. When you challenge comfort, people don’t just get angry. They get fightin’ mad. Comfort will even tell you to crucify an innocent man.
The church can’t be missional and comfortable at the same time. It’s time to make a decision.
I grew up watching Sesame Street. My favorite character?…Cookie Monster. I felt like we were the same person. And what I mean is we both loved cookies. I would often go around the house saying, “Gimme da cookies.”
It never worked.
Many Christians are like Cookie Monster. Their mantra is, “Gimme more…well anything. Just give me more. More. More. More.”
The essence of this sin is a false understanding of God, that God is a taker. But nothing could be further from the truth. God is a giver. He’s the Giver. And, as a man or woman created in his image, you should be a giver.
So, what are you creating? What are you giving back to the world? What are giving back to others?
Cue the nasty emails. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t picture Jesus waving an American flag while showing off his “I love ‘Merica” tattoo. Jesus wasn’t against the government. In fact, if you’re a Jesus follower, the Bible calls you to pray for your nation and for your leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-4). But Jesus was very clear about how God’s name would become famous throughout the world…the church. Not the government. Not a nation. The church.
When your allegiance is torn between your country and your God, American ideals begin to shape your faith more than God. And you transpose American values onto God, believing God would be an American and think like an American.
Celebrate American values. That’s great. But, at the end of the day, your citizenship is not with America. It’s in heaven.
If gluttony is the elephant in the room everyone sees, but no one talks about, lying is the elephant in the room no one sees. Lying is so socially acceptable, even in Christian circles, that it often goes undetected. We’re desensitized to it.
And here’s why this is dangerous for Christians.
There’s a rarely-discussed passage in Matthew 5:33-37 where Jesus confronts the Pharisees about oaths. Most Americans only hear the word oath when a celebrity lies in court (under oath). But Jesus isn’t talking about oaths in this passage.
He’s talking about INTEGRITY.
Here’s what Jesus is saying. You should live with such high integrity that your word doesn’t need attachments to make it legitimate. So, typical phrases like, “I promise,” “I swear” and “I put it on my mom’s grave” should never come from your mouth.
“Frank, c’mon on man. Are you interpreting that correctly? Say you promise.”
These words are a kick in the pants, right? If you’re like me, you say things all the time and never follow through. You lie to make yourself sound better. You lie to stay out of trouble. You lie to get ahead. Sometimes you lie just to lie.
Jesus says there’s no place for that if you’re a Christian. Your word matters. If you say something, God expects you to do it. It’s better to tell the truth and lose your job than lie and keep it.
How serious is this? Jesus says anything more than our word is from the evil one, Satan. That’s real.
Sometimes the undetected sins are the most toxic. My hope is you will see this as an opportunity to grow. I also realize there are some “church approved” sins I didn’t mention. It’s your turn.
By Frank Powell
About the Author: Devoted follower of Christ, college/young adult minister, husband to
@tiffanipowell, dad to Noah and Micah, avid blogger/writer, sports fan. You can follow him on twitter here and read more blogs here!