Wednesday, July 6, 2016

An Air of Refinement


Romans 3:22-24
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

My mother describes her summer visits as a child to Nantucket Island, where her grandmother owned and operated a homey and welcoming inn.  In those years between the First and Second World Wars, the rich frequented this pristine locale, with its cool, ocean breezes, for vacation fun.  Grandma, acutely aware of this, made sure my mother and her sister wore fancy dresses for morning and evening visits to the dining room.  She also spent copious hours drilling the girls on proper manners and etiquette, hoping these skills would help them blend in with the refined clientele she hosted.

"To look at us," says Mom, "no one would ever guess we weren't from a wealthy family.  But inside, I always knew the difference.  No amount of frilly smocks, hair bows, or knowing to put my napkin in my lap changed the tomboy I was."

Yes, my mother could don an air of refinement like a pleasant facade, just to please her grandmother, when all the while she would rather be climbing trees or throwing a baseball.

In the second chapter of his book, The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges discusses the dangers inherent for Christians when they fail to recognize sins, which at first, may not appear to be sins at all.

Most often our sin problem is in the area I call "refined" sins.  These are the sins of nice people, sins that we can regularly commit and still retain our positions as elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and yes, even full-time Christian workers.

Bridges proceeds to elaborate on these refined sins:  judging others; speaking critically or spreading gossip; harboring resentment or bitterness; having an unforgiving spirit; being impatient, and becoming irritable with those around us.

Do any of these ring a bell for you?  I know they do for me, especially in the judging others and impatient departments.  Just the other day, I catch myself assuming something about a person based on the way she is dressed.  Not good!  And the last time I got behind a pokey driver with no opportunity to pass?  Well, let's just say I acted significantly unlike the child of God I'm supposed to be.

Bridges continues:
God is grieved over our "refined" sins just as He is grieved over sexual immorality or dishonesty.  I am not suggesting that being irritable at one's spouse is as serious as something like adultery, I am saying that being irritable at one's spouse is a sin, and that all sin grieves God and should grieve us.

Any sin, refined or not, misses the mark.  Period.

And honestly, are there any of us who have the least desire to grieve the heart of our loving Father?

It's time to stop deluding ourselves.  Let's remove that false air of refinement, and toss our napkins on the floor.  Let's rid ourselves of those masks that tell the world we're perfect, and run full tilt to Jesus, confessing to Him even the sins that don't look like sins.

I'm ready to race!

Are you?

Prayer:  Father, so often we want to look good in the eyes of the world that we forget to see how truly filthy and sinful we are inside.  Convict our hearts to search deeply within, and confess our sins to You with full repentance.  Thank You for Your gift of grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  It is in Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

~



For the next eleven weeks, I will be participating in a study of Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace.  It is led by fellow Christian bloggers, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, who welcome you to read the book along with us, and chime in at any time if you feel so moved.  Even if you decide not to read the book, I hope you will meet up with me here every Wednesday for a new reflection.  God bless!

12 comments:

  1. "The sins of nice people" - what you list there is especially appropriate for me is this craziest of crazy political seasons. Thanks, Martha!

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    1. Yep! I hear you, Glynn, loud and clear.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Oh ... Bridges has nailed it, hasn't he. Words of conviction that beg to be tended to, renounced, forgiven.

    Martha, thanks!

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    1. He nails it, alright, Linda! He truly convicted me in this chapter. Can't wait to keep reading!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Hmmm.
    Never heard the phrase, refined sins. We are all guilty of some of these. One of the things I took away from this, Martha is your great grandmother, your mother's grandmother made sure she dressed finely and your mother saying she'd rather be climbing trees.

    I can see both sides of this, but I identify more with your mother's desires. Hope she had time to do what she wanted to as well.

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    1. Oh, never fear, Chris, Mom had plenty of time growing up to be herself.
      Yes, the term "refined" sins, I believe, is coined by the author. I had never heard the term used before until I read it here. It really spoke strongly to me about how easy it is to let our "little" sins fly under the radar when we should take time to really reflect on how even the smallest sin breaks our Father's heart.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Oh yeah, Martha, it's so easy to justify ourselves and behavior. I'll tell you, that statement about the sins that will allow you to stay a deacon, elder, etc. is very convicting. Even leaders can see these refined sins as "not that big a deal," but it all grieves the Father and has to be dealt with. Thank you for joining these discussions, Martha. Great insights and I know there will be much more to come. :)

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    1. First off, Jason, I felt surely God would bless me through these discussions, and He already has in a mighty way. So glad you offered the open invitation!
      And I agree with you that that particular statement really makes up sit up straight and take notice. Every sin is a "big deal" to God, and we must do more to own up to our shortcomings if we want to get things right with Him
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Haven't read this particular work of Bridges but have enjoyed other works of his. Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to more of your writings on the topic and, knowing me, I'll probably add his book to my collection! It continues to amaze me how closely we choose topics to write on! B Blessed my friend!

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    1. It amazes me, too, Mike, that so often we are on the same page when it comes to blog writing. All I can say about that is our God is an awesome God!
      Glad you enjoyed this installment. I am truly looking forward to this new adventure in blog posts, and in learning more about the Father's heart.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Martha, this post hit a little too close to home. Clearly, it's a message that I need to take to heart. Yes, I'm ready to race to Jesus!

    Love and blessings!

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    1. You, too, Kim? I know it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was definitely something I needed to hear from God and take to heart.
      Glad you're ready to race - on your mark, get set, GO!
      Love and blessings!

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