Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seven Sins on the Wilderness Way

Writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul stated that the actions of God's people in past generations "took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did" (1 Cor. 10:6). As members of the New Covenant, we are not on a physical journey from Egypt to the Promised Land as the nation of Israel once was, but we certainly find ourselves on a spiritual one. The road of life as we follow Jesus gives us various opportunities to be faithful to our King, or to be "stiff-necked" as this large band of travelers was often called.

Psalm 106 details the troubles the delivered nation faced, and it is instructive for us on our journey as well. What were they guilty of? How can we let their example, and the Scriptures that record their failures, search our hearts and bring us to repentance and renewed faith for the road ahead?

1. Forgetfulness (v.13) God had showed Himself to be powerful, acting for their continual good as they left Egypt and traveled toward His promise; but when given a new opportunity to trust in His provision, the people did not wait for Him to act or seek His counsel. Have you found this to be a pattern in your walk? Has God shown up for you in the past, but when a new obstacle arises, you forget to call on Him and wait for His provision?

2. Thanklessness (v.14) No matter how God blessed them, these men and women always found what they lacked, and griped that God wasn't giving it to them. They were more marked by complaint than praise. Are you more apt to see and speak of the blessings received from God's hand or what you don't have?

3. Jealousy (v.16) Though God had obviously raised up Moses for the purpose of leading the expedition, and the people benefited from his guidance, the eye of jealousy occasionally wandered in his direction, as rivals were envious of the position and power he had. Are there people in your life you are continually measuring yourself against? When things go well for them, do you rejoice or become bitter?

4. Idolatry (v.19) Instead of receiving God as He had shown Himself to be, the people were guilty of fashioning Him into something they were more comfortable with. I don't expect that you construct idols out of materials in your home, but it's quite possible that you do in your heart and mind. Do you embrace the God of the Scriptures as He's revealed to you- all of Him? Does your heart occasionally fashion Him into a genie, whose sole purpose is to serve your perceived needs? Our hearts are prone to wander. They need to be trained by grace to wander continually to Him.

5. Unbelief (v.24) The chosen nation did not believe God's word or His promises. He had told them they would receive a good land from Him, but when it came time to take it from those who appeared mighty, fear overtook them instead of faith. It's easy for us to say we believe what God tells us is ours in Scripture, but faith is exercised when our actions match our words. Does your living align with what you profess? Are the treasures in Christ really for you? When Christ calls you to follow Him into uncharted territory, will you pump the brakes or hold on tightly to Him?

6. Rashness (v.33) Lack of self-control was evident in the speech of the people, and it eventually was displayed by Moses. Their words were used without restraint, as if God does not hear. This may seem frivolous to some, but God is concerned about every idle word, and expects us to use our speech as an encouraging gift to others (and in praise to Him), not a curse. We will give an account to him for what we say (Matt. 12:36).

7. Disobedience (v.34) God gave clear commands to His people- how they were to settle and take the land He had promised. Yet, they failed to obey. This should be the most obvious sin to us as we travel the road of life- when God's word clearly speaks to us of how we are to follow His lordship, but we still refuse. Are you harboring any disobedience? Trying to justify in your heart or to others what you know is not pleasing to Him? Seek to please Christ, not the fleshly nature that still remains.

Thankfully the Psalm does not end on a note of judgment. God is gracious to those who call on Him (repentance), He remembers the covenant He made (with us through Jesus' blood) and overflows with love toward those who know (faith) His name.

Your Fellow Traveler...