The Moving Line

ImageI have heard ever since I was young that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. There seems to be something irresistibly enticing about things that are across barriers or even forbidden.

I guess it’s human nature to push beyond barriers. It’s that curious, questioning, daring nature that has allowed humankind to experience some of our greatest achievements. The first speeding violation in an automobile was in 1899 in New York. A cab driver was jailed for driving 12 mph. I guess he had “the need for speed!” But the human race was not content with 12 mph; we wanted to go faster, higher, farther. That pressing forward is not always safe but it has produced remarkable achievements.

But stepping over lines and knocking down fences may not always be in our best interest. Adam and Eve were given full access to Eden and all its delights with the exception of the fruit of one tree. That decision to eat of it had devastating consequences for them and for all humanity.

There are lines drawn by society that sometimes need to be erased and moved. There are lines drawn by God, however, that should remain solid. We need the wisdom to know the difference.

A new poll done by Gallup indicates that moral lines are moving in our culture and in the church. For instance, 59% of American adults indicated that gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable. That represents a 19 percentage point increase since 2001; at that time only 40% said it was morally acceptable. In addition, 60% of respondents said that having a baby outside of marriage was morally acceptable. That is a 15 percentage point increase since 2002. (For a story on this Gallup poll from the Christian Post, go to

Lines are moving. Ethics are shifting. Some people rejoice and declare, “It’s about time.” Some pick up placards and take to the streets declaring hatred for all who disagree with them. Believers should understand both the times in which we live and the eternal truths of God.

Our teaching and lives should be consistent with the revealed will of God. Our attitude should be one of love but not necessarily acceptance of the new norm. We must speak the the truth in love. We are not to angrily condemn people nor are we to condone sin. Instead we are to allow the truth of God to shape our ethics, the power of God to help us live in a godly fashion, and the love of God to lead us to share with others the reason for the hope that we have.

Confronting Envy

The story is told of two shopkeepers who were bitter rivals. Their stores were across the street from one another, and they spent their days sitting in the doorway keeping track of who had the most customers. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at the other. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers and said, “God has sent me to teach you a lesson. He will give you anything you ask for, but I want you to know that whatever you get, your competitor across the street will get twice as much. Would you like wealth? You will get whatever you ask for, but he will get twice as much. Do you want a long and happy life? It is yours, but he will live twice as long. You can be famous, your children can be famous, whatever you desire. But whatever you get, he will get twice as much.” The man frowned, thought for a moment, and said, “All right. My request is this: Strike me blind in one eye!”

There is the power of envy, and the Bible strongly warns us against it. The Bible makes it crystal clear: “Envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). It churns up your insides as you look at others wanting their stuff, their house, their car, their life. It’s often internal and therefore unseen, but it is no less harmful to yourself, your relationships with others, and your relationship with the Lord. James writes: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16)

Here are some suggestions for overcoming envy. First, acknowledge that envy is a spiritual issue. It’s not just about what someone has that you don’t; it’s about your heart!

Second, confess that envy is a sin and ask God to set you free. Hiding things from God has never been a good idea. He already knows, so confess it. God is not waiting to slap you down but to cleanse you and free you from the burden of guilt.

Third, pray for the person you envy. That’s right! Pray for them. Remember, envy is a heart issue. It’s hard to envy someone you truly love. Let God change you from the inside by praying positively for your rival rather than thinking negatively about him or her.

Finally, count your blessings. Part of the problem with envy is that you magnify your neighbor’s blessings and minimize your own. In so doing, you become ungrateful toward God. By looking at what God has given you and finding contentment there, your envy has no fertile ground in which to grow.

Redeeming Love

A song has been playing in my head throughout the week.  It’s not a new song.  It was written in 1800 by a brilliant man, but one who was often given to bouts of deep depression.  The man was William Cowper.  The song is “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”  Here are the words most commonly sung:

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood shall never lose its power;
Till all the ransomed church of God are saved, to sin no more.

For since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.

These words have been sung using a variety of tunes.  I am personally enjoying the version by City Hymns.  But it is the power of these words that grips my mind and stirs my soul, for the song speaks of a redemption that comes by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the cleansing I have received because of it.

“Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.”  What is the theme of your life? What is that truth that holds your life together and gives it meaning? There is no greater theme or more solid truth than the redeeming love of God shown in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ.