Sin is a constant presence in our lives due to the boundless nature of evil. It can strike unexpectedly and attempt to harm and annihilate us. On other occasions, evil can reveal itself in a more insidious manner by tempting us with deceitful lures that make us believe what is harmful is actually beneficial. This patient manifestation of evil can be cunning and difficult to recognize without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it's crucial to remain vigilant and aware of the subtle ways in which evil can manifest in our lives.
Perfection is an unattainable ideal, as all of us daily yield to temptations and sin. Evil has an uncanny ability to exploit our vulnerabilities and entice us towards our most profound desires until we fall prey to sin. Nevertheless, the Bible reassures us in Proverbs 24:16 "a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again." Thank God! How blessed is the person who has a loyal and patient companion to help him back onto the path of righteousness after falling into sin. But the one who falls into sin without someone to assist him can feel overwhelmed in despair, and just might give up.
The future Day of Judgment is a certainty, and on that day we will all be held accountable for our lives before God. However, it is unfortunate that some people have taken it upon themselves to judge others in the present, as if they were God's representatives. This is a misguided and dangerous attitude, as only God has the authority to judge with perfect knowledge and justice.
It's all too common for people to quickly condemn others caught in sin. As human beings, we tend to forget that Christ's law for today is based on love toward one another. Rather than judging and criticizing those who have stumbled, we should approach them with compassion and meekness. Our aim should be on restoring them to a noble state, not tearing them down with a critical spirit. When someone is overtaken by a fault, we should extend a helping hand and gently guide them back onto the right path. The spirit of meekness enables us to show humility, kindness, and patience towards those who have fallen, allowing us to better understand their struggles and offer the support they need. The faults and sins of others should serve as a reminder for us to reflect on our own weaknesses. Due to our sinful nature, the right circumstances at the right time can lead any one of us to commit even the most heinous of sins. We, too, are susceptible to falling into temptation and should take heed of the warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
I can relate to the temptation of sin, as the devil often makes it appear appealing and alluring. Evil has surrounded me on numerous occasions and allured me to stumble into ugly sins, leaving me ramshackle. I am reminded of the words of a dear woman whom God used to help countless children; she was battered greatly by evil, and she once said, "I am extremely damaged goods, but God loves to use extremely damaged goods." Amen! I just love it! Despite being impaired by evil, she kept her faith in God and believed in His limitless grace. Her words serve as a reminder that no matter how broken and damaged we are, God's love and grace work alongside our damaged selves for the good in the lives of people.
I too, view myself as damaged goods. Like many others, I am very flawed because of my past; and my present with all the vulnerabilities that lurk within me only demonstrate that I am helplessly weak without Christ. But God gives me grace! There are times when I question and ponder many things. Again God gives me more grace. God takes pleasure choosing the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He chooses the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. God takes pleasure choosing base things of the world and things which are despised so that He can do a glorious work and receive all the glory that only Christ deserves.
God has been incredibly good to me. I cherish the relationship I have with Him. I am filled with much gratitude for the work He has privileged me to do in the lives of people, particularly youth. Despite this, some individuals have voiced their objections to my involvement in ministry, openly criticizing me through email or to my face. They claim that I have no place in helping children or spreading God's Word. While I can understand their perspective to some extent, I recognize that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways. Although at times I feel unworthy of walking with God and serving so many precious, needy children around the world, I believe that He has called me to stand in the gap for them. Through my work, I am able to empathize with their pain and suffering, and offer them words of encouragement that a better day is coming. It is a privilege to be able to speak into their lives and edify them of the hope that can be found in Christ Jesus.
At one point in my life, I was leading two very different lives. Initially, I had not intended for this to happen, but eventually, I began to purposely keep personal details about myself hidden from others due to feelings of shame. Even those closest to me were unaware of my participation in serious temptations and passionate struggles from the past. However, no sin can remain hidden forever, and once my secrets were revealed, some individuals felt compelled to share my faults, resulting in the spread of slander and gossip. While some of the accusations were true, others were baseless. Learning about my hidden life caused pang to many, resulting in the loss of respected friendships, and inadvertently causing those close to me to suffer. I regret the hurt I caused to others and the disappointment I brought them.
I deeply miss the friends that I lost during that time. They were dear to me, and I hold no anger towards them, even though they chose to abandon me when I needed them the most. As they say, hurting people hurt people, and I understand that the way things unfolded was painful but not unusual or unexpected. I realize that the decisions I made and the actions I took were too shocking for them to comprehend, much less accept. I can only imagine the bombshell of thoughts that ran through their heads when they learned new particulars about me. Hence, I now comprehend that for some individuals, the sole way to cope with shocking feelings of pang was to push me away and attempt to erase me from their memory.
In an attempt to console their confused minds and explain myself, I spent a lot of time on the phone and meeting with my friends one-on-one. Unfortunately, my good intentions backfired, causing me and those once close to me even more despair. One friend even went as far as calling me a “serial liar” to my face, despite my numerous attempts to honestly and candidly answer his questions. His words were hurtful, but I understood his shock and disappointment. People didn't understand how I could have kept them in the dark for all those years, but they didn't know how painful it was for me.
As time went on, I found it increasingly difficult to control my emotions. My heart was tearing apart inside, and I felt a deep sense of anger towards my former friends for rejecting me. It was even more devastating when I discovered that a few of those closest to me had divulged my secrets to others, causing me immense pain, embarrassment and a sense of betrayal. I began to resent the friends which I had once loved, and the pang eventually turned into bitterness, fueling a desire for vengeance and the hope that judgment should be executed against them for what they had done.
I am deeply grateful to God for His immense patience and guidance during this difficult time. He used His Word to speak to my heart and prevent me from causing any further damage to myself or other relationships I cherished.
For the next four months, I devoted myself to studying the life of King David as chronicled in the books of First and Second Samuel in the Holy Bible. Through this study, I came to understand more deeply that David, despite being tempted on several occasions to seek revenge against those who had closely known him and had wronged him, yet he consistently acted in righteousness and resisted the temptation to retaliate. Despite David's loyalty and goodness to his father-in-law, King Saul, yet Saul still sought to kill him. Despite David’s son Absalom's attempts to undermine David’s throne and get rid of him, David remained composed and caring towards him. Despite David always taking care of people across the nation, a man named Shimei openly humiliated David without cause, and David chose not to retaliate or take action.
Time after time in David’s life he was backstabbed and tempted to revenge himself, yet David consistently behaved with wisdom and prudence. His godly manners prompted me to reflect on my own emotions and desires, and their impact on others. For example, when David had an opportunity to harm Shimei after being publicly slandered, David commanded his comrades: “let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:11-12). David’s words on many occasions, spoken in moments of temptation and raw emotions, demonstrated a man equipped with a good attitude, who had learned to trust God’s sovereignty, and thereby was able to righteously respond to vengeful temptations. His words resonated within me and caused me to repent of the anger and vengeful thoughts inside me. Through prayer and reflection, I began to kindle a love for those whom I had hurt, and to understand the pang that I had caused them.
An earlier incident in David’s life that greatly inspired me was when he faced a dangerous situation with his father-in-law King Saul, who was relentlessly pursuing to kill him. To evade Saul's madness, David and his comrades sought refuge in a cave. One night, Saul and his troops unknowingly entered the same cave where David and his men were hiding. While Saul was sound asleep, one of David's warriors, Abishai, urged him to take advantage of the situation and kill Saul with a single spear thrust. David's response, however, revealed his good heart and his unwavering trust in God's sovereignty in the face of adversity. He refused to harm Saul, and declared that only God had the right to judge him. David's faith in God's justice and his refusal to retaliate against his enemy are truly remarkable, considering the extent of the injustices he had suffered (2 Samuel 26:7-11).
As I reflected on many other stories of David's life, I sensed a gentle whisper from God urging me to seek no harm toward anyone, neither in their lives nor in my own heart. I recognized and accepted my responsibility for creating a situation that had caused pang to others and I questioned the value of holding onto anger and bitterness. I recognized that such negative emotions only serve to destroy a person, and never builds anyone up. As a result, I made a conscious decision to follow David's example and approach all of my interactions with others with wisdom, righteous behavior, and compassion.
Over time, God granted me an enlarged heart with a little more love, and I began to grasp a tiny fraction of His unfathomable wisdom and love in dealing with me and others. It's possible that the Lord used my sins and the resulting pang to accomplish His good will. I realized that God is ultimately in control, allowing both good and bad to occur for His will to be accomplished in the greater scheme of things. Though others may slander me, I decided to let them do so, while remaining committed to living with honesty and humility before God, even if it means personal sacrifice. My ultimate allegiance is to God alone, and it's possible that He will look on my afflictions, pity me, and show me mercy. In the end, the Lord will judge everyone, whether sinners or saints, and repay them according to their deeds.