Getting a Grip on Your Life
(Genesis 4:7; Romans 7:15-25; 1 Corinthians 6:12)
You may have heard about the woman who said, “I can quit smoking anytime that I want to quit; and I know that for a fact because I’ve quit a thousand times before.”
You’ve probably heard of the man who prayed, “O God, give me patience and give it to me right now!”
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again because it’s one of life’s greatest struggles. Temptations are bad things that taste good; which explains why we fall to ‘em more than we’d like.
Whether it’s eating too much or not eating enough, substance abuse, sexual misconduct, gossip, and all of the other bad behaviors that hurt others, ourselves, and Him – “As you do it to them,” Jesus said, “you do it to Me!” – everybody, except for the deluded and self-righteous who think they’re God’s other son, feels like Paul on too many personally disappointing occasions: “I don’t understand what I do. For what I want to do, I don’t do…Sin is living in me…I have a sinful nature…I am constantly sinning even when I don’t want to…I do bad things when I want to do good things…I keep on doing it…I can’t seem to get a grip on my life.”
It’s always been that way.
It started in the garden when God told the Adamsons to stay away from just one tree and they couldn’t resist the temptation to take a big bite from the dark side.
Their first boy Cain was jealous and angry with his baby brother Abel, couldn’t control himself, and murdered him. You can read the whole story in Genesis 4.
Notice how God told Cain to get a grip on his life before he succumbed to the temptation to murder his brother: “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you; but you must master it.”
After writing about the sin always ready to pounce and seduce and plunge us into bad behaviors that hurt others, ourselves, and God, Paul made this pledge: “I will not be mastered by anything but God.”
No one is immune to the problem that has plagued humanity since the garden.
We do bad things.
It’s in our nature.
It’s part of being human.
The good news is we can get better; or as Don Skarr likes to say, “We’ll never be sinless; but we can sin less.”
Here’s the answer.
The closer we get to Jesus, the farther away that we’ll move from behaviors that hurt others, ourselves, and Him.
Or as Jesus said, “We can be born anothen.”
We can get so close to Jesus, more and more filling our hearts with
Him so that there’s less and less room for those negative instincts, that we feel like we’re new and fresh and, please excuse the grammar here, more better than more worse.
It’s what Paul called the fruit/proof/evidence of being tight and tighter and tighter with God.
When we’re close to God we experience more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, humility, and self-control.
In short, we get a grip on our lives by getting closer to God.
We do that by replacing who and what want to master us with the Master!
Conversely, when we see someone, maybe even the reflection in the mirror, who is not very loving or miserable more often than not or impatient and contentious and not very good or kind or faithful or gentle or humble or self-controlled, it means that person cannot be that close to God; because, again, when people are close to God and getting closer to God, they get more better than more worse and become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, humble, and self-controlled.
So that’s the truth according to Jesus by the book.
If we want to get away from bad behaviors, we’ll get closer to God.
If we want to get a grip on our lives, we’ll get tight with the Master and we’ll master all of the rest.
Another quick truth – the most important of all.
After Paul admitted he could get better by getting close to God, meaning we can get better by getting closer to God, he also admitted that he and us would never be pure and perfect in every way; which prompted him to exclaim, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus! Thanks be to God who bridges the gap by grace through faith in Jesus! Thanks be to God who forgives what we could not master if we turn to Him as Master, invite Him into our hearts as Lord and Savior, and pray and try to get closer and closer and closer to Him and more better than more worse as gratitude and praise.
Speaking of truth, I read some books while convalescing back in October from my hip toss.
One that really caught my attention was Treason by Newt Gingrich. Back then, I never thought he would be anything more than an author who, unlike me, actually writes books that people read and be an occasional commentator for CNN and Fox. Anyway as someone who has been to the Middle East about 8 times and studied Islam by their book and founder rather than the made up PC version being hawked by ignorant members of the media, government, and education, I was encouraged by these truthful excerpts about the Islam by the book and its founder: “Muslims can’t claim Islam is a peace-loving religion when the Quran openly calls for violence against nonbelievers…Western intelligence services claim radicals make
up fifteen to twenty-five percent of all Muslims…that’s 180 million to 300 million radical jihadists who want to murder nonbelievers…
Consider that a bonus message.
Another book that I read was A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston.
He starred as Walter White in the mega-award-winning series Breaking Bad.
The story is complicated; but, basically, it’s about a man who engages in bad behaviors because he wants more money to take care of his family and, well, his personal greedy appetite.
Cranston sums up Walter White’s motive in the book: “He wants to leave something behind. We all do.”
Here’s the final truth of this message.
Unless we’re totally egocentric and narcissistic and other bad things that prove we’ve never broken the genetic chains to the Adamsons and their bad boy Cain and been born anothen by grace through faith in Jesus, we want to leave something good behind.
All we have to do is turn to the Master and no one or no thing will ever master us again…completely…and forever.
Jesus is the answer to every question.
He is how we can get a grip on our lives.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!