Impatience is a Deadly Sin

“Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit and so its opposite, impatience, is a deadly sin.”

“And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’”

Numbers 21:4-5

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and so its opposite, impatience, is a deadly sin, as we see in Numbers 21.  

A Deadly Sin

Have you ever thought of impatience this way? What God has promised, he will accomplish. If we lose confidence in his ability or second-guess his timing, we reveal a lack of faith that will lead to other sins. Impatience is one of those sins. 

Israel had a promise from God and God was moving them forward in his plan. The problem is that while God’s plan is moving forward we often perceive it to be going backwards, sideways, or no place at all! 

We too have promises from God that are yet to be fulfilled but surely will be fulfilled, yet we struggle just as much as Israel did. We get impatient, we grumble against God, we tear down our leaders and our fellow Christians. And what we need is repentance. 

Wicked Ways

Impatience, grumbling, and tearing down are all components of the “wicked ways” God mentions in 2 Chron. 7:14. When we perceive these sins in our lives, we need to humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face. 

I struggle with impatience often, but not as much as I once did. It took a few hard experiences to help me learn that God works in ways I would never consider working.

He can do everything that I cannot. He sees every person, action and thought in every circumstance in which I am involved, and I do not.

Compared to what he knows, I know almost nothing, and so I must pursue straightforward obedience and trust the promise of Romans 8:28 that despite what my eyes and heart perceive, he is working all things together for his glory and my good.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

Dark Hearts and Glowing Faces

“I’ve heard people say that churches are full of fakers, and that is occasionally true. Each one of us has gathered with others for worship at one time or another with a sad heart but an outward smile, with a dark heart and a glowing face. In some assemblies, there is a known but unspoken requirement to make a good show of things when the corporate body is gathered.”

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“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! “

Matthew 15:6-7

Jesus says here not that traditions are evil, but that they can become too precious. They can become so precious, in fact, that they make void the word of God. What begins as a good, faithful, and repeated practice can harden into a mandatory legalistic habit that hinders our worship.

However, we can find innumerable examples of good traditions as well, traditions that enhance our experience of God’s goodness and are therefore faithful aids to us in the journey of life.

We must never discard traditions lightly. Instead, we need to evaluate all our traditions with this in mind: Does the tradition serve the purpose of glorifying the work of God, or has it become merely a mechanism by which people are glorified in their strict adherence and enforcement of it?

Honouring God

Jesus goes on to say:

“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me,  teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:7–9)

Who is he talking about when he mentions people who honour God with their lips while concealing a heart that is far from him? Who are those who worship in vain, making man-made commandments into doctrines? In the immediate context, of course, he’s talking to the Pharisees.

But just as with other warnings and sayings of Jesus that were issued to religious leaders of the day, we tend not to apply these sayings to ourselves. But we fool ourselves if we think these sayings cannot apply to us.

Full of Fakers

I’ve heard people say that churches are full of fakers, and that is occasionally true. Each one of us has gathered with others for worship at one time or another with a sad heart but an outward smile, with a dark heart and a glowing face. In some assemblies, there is a known but unspoken requirement to make a good show of things when the corporate body is gathered.

And so on some Sundays, we honour God with our lips while our hearts are far from him. He would be more honoured if we confessed and lamented the condition of our hearts and cried out for grace and mercy – even, at times, in front of everyone. 

We also don’t think of ourselves as those who “teach as doctrine the commandments of men,” but a quick look at some of the sacred cows (figurative ones, I hope!) in our churches reveals that we sometimes take as absolute what was merely assembled out of certain preferences and points of pride about our history, culture or heritage. 

These are not always bad in themselves, but when we raise them to a level of importance equal to doctrine, we are on a dangerous path.  

Do you have any favourite traditions that enhance your experience of God’s goodness?

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4 Ways to Avoid Destroying Yourself by Way of Your Sin

A church family should be a place where both afflictions and joys are openly shared. The cultivation of such an environment should be the normal impulse of any church leader, but too often it seems we are more interested in shaping a culture of positive motivational quotes while ignoring the more challenging aspects of life. 

“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.”

1 Tim. 5:24-25

Paul writes in 1 Tim. 5:24-25 of two types of unrepentant sinners. Of all the varieties of sin, some stand out as obvious and judgement for them follows close behind, while others remain hidden until a later date. We could call these two types “short-game” and “long-game” sin. 

Short-Game and Long-Game Sin

Short-game sin and its outcomes happen in a sequence on a relatively short timeline. Considering all the damage that sin can do, we should thank God when sin is quickly revealed and dealt with. Some damage is always done by sin, but short-game sin has less opportunity to ensnare others. Some flame out quickly and take only a few down with them.

Long-game sin is quite different. It is deeply-hidden sin, usually in the life of someone who appears quite holy, who is often well-respected and even admired. We lament to think of the tragedy of all that was revealed after the death of someone like Ravi Zacharias. In the aftermath of these revelations, the faith of many was shaken – and in some cases destroyed – and the reputation of the gospel was stained.

How can we avoid destroying ourselves and the faith of others by way of our personal sin? 

  1. By regularly confessing our sins to God

God’s word assures us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NASB) 

It seems like a no-brainer but ask yourself: When was the last time you regularly and thoroughly examined yourself and confessed your sins to God?

  1. By regularly confessing our sins to one another

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) 

This instruction probably suffers even greater neglect. So many people believe they will face judgment and condemnation if they reveal their sins to other believers. That is, of course, a risk, but we may not ignore this command simply because it is risky.

  1. By inviting accountability

This goes right along with confessing your sins to someone. We should follow up our confessions with an invitation to an external examination by other trustworthy believers. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We would be foolish to wait until the day of judgement to receive an assessment of the wisdom of the words we use. It is much better to ask for caring critique and loving rebuke from those who desire to see us live in a way that is pleasing to God.

  1. By dwelling in a community of faith where we can be fully known

Many churches come by their reputations as bastions of shallowness honestly. But that will not do if 1 Cor. 2:26 is to hold true: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.”

A church family should be a place where both afflictions and joys are openly shared. The cultivation of such an environment should be the normal impulse of any church leader, but too often it seems we are more interested in shaping a culture of positive motivational quotes while ignoring the more challenging aspects of life. 

If you are part of a Christian community where confessing sins to each other is not the norm, you might want to ask yourself if you are actually part of a real Christian community at all.

A Call to Repentance

Finally, if you have not been practicing the above and know you are engaging in unrepentant sin, whether it be short-game or long, be assured that what is presently in the dark will someday be brought into the light. It is far better to bring sin into the light yourself than to have it brought into the light by someone else. 

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The Sin of Trusting in Politics For Salvation

The motive behind many of the cruel critiques of political leaders does not seem to be the securing of a more peaceful and quiet life. It seems to run more along the lines of securing political power and then retaining that power going forward. This is a very wrong turn. To be involved in politics, of course, is no sin, but to trust in politics for salvation certainly is.

God is always at work in human affairs for the good of his people and the glory of his name. This should inspire our confidence when we face the tough circumstances of the present and those yet to come. It is up to us to trust him, seek him, and act according to what he has revealed to us about his will.

The wisdom contained in God’s word is sufficient; we need no new revelation. We need no new instructions, especially when so much of what has already been commanded is not obeyed. What is needed instead is for us to return again and again to the timeless wisdom of Scripture, which is as relevant to us today as it was to those to whom it was originally written.

Praying For Politicians

Here is something he reveals in 1 Tim. 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

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It is difficult to pray without hypocrisy for those whom you curse outside of your prayer time. Love, the Apostle Paul tells us, is the supreme virtue. Yet over these last years, while much truth has been spoken, too rarely has it been spoken in love. This has been especially evident in the overheated responses to the actions of leaders in politics and religion. As we go forward, we must commit firmly to the biblical principle that critique is in bounds, but cruelty is not. 

Disrespecting The Authorities

In Canada, it often seems we are a little bit proud of how disrespectful we are of our governing authorities. This is certainly not the example of God’s servants in scripture, and so I think our attitudes about our relationship with and behaviour towards those who govern us could use a few corrections.

I have been guilty of this disrespect on occasion as well, and I have had to reshape my thinking and behaviour. The help we need in this area of our lives is found in Scripture. The words of Scripture and the examples of the stories we find there clearly expose many of us who think we have a license to speak and act disrespectfully to those who govern us. (Especially if they belong to a party with the wrong colour election sign, right?)

God’s Ambassadors

In 2 Cor. 5:20 we are called God’s ambassadors. We should act in ways befitting an ambassador. This means that we represent the one in ultimate authority in front of those who wield his delegated authority. And when we find we must speak up against something the governing authorities are doing, we do so as God’s representatives and we do so out of concern for God’s glory and for their souls.

The motive behind many of the cruel critiques of political leaders does not seem to be the securing of a more peaceful and quiet life. It seems to run more along the lines of securing political power and then retaining that power going forward. This is a very wrong turn. To be involved in politics, of course, is no sin, but to trust in politics for salvation certainly is.

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Sin is Seeking to Destroy You

On any evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, sin takes notice and seeks to distort and destroy. This should cause us to live with greater awareness, not more fear. And this is why we must live in continual repentance and confess our sins often – to God but to each other as well, as we are commanded to do in scripture.

“Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good…”

Romans 7:13

Sin seeks to use what is good in order to deceive and to destroy all that it can in the process. We see this tactic first employed in the biblical account of the fall of mankind. In Genesis 3:1 the serpent asks Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” One of Satan’s main tactics is to parse the commands of God and present us with potential loopholes. We often accept his offer, forsaking the simplicity of God’s commands for convenient complications.

Where Compromise Leads

Through their compromise, Adam and Eve really did become more like God, but not in a desirable way. Consider this: up to that point they knew only good; now they would know evil as well. God already knew what evil was but mankind did not yet have knowledge of it. This knowledge of evil was obtained by participating in evil, which had both immediate and massive downstream consequences. Death was now a possibility and mankind was on track to experience that as well.

Participation in sin does expand our knowledge and awareness, but it makes us aware of realities we consequently wish we’d never known. Once we know these things, we cannot un-know them. And yet in the foolishness of our human pride, we still fall for the same gambit over and over.  We compromise repeatedly as our flesh seizes the opportunity and our minds rationalize the sins we commit. Presented with a convenient mistruth, we are willingly led down a path of compromise.

Sin is Aggressive

In the next chapter of Genesis (4:7) it says that “sin is crouching at the door…” I find this insight into the nature of sin to be helpful. Sin is not only what we seek to do that is contrary to God’s commands, it is also what waits to surprise and tempt and attack us. Sin is an aggressor in addition to being a passive availability.

Sin sees that we are humble and tempts us to be proud of our humility. 

Sin sees that we are compassionate and seeks to lead us to approve of the sins of others. 

Sin sees that we are patient and encourages us to tolerate evil. 

Sin sees that we are obedient and seeks to lead us into bondage to those who would do us harm.

On any evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, sin takes notice and seeks to distort and destroy. 

This should cause us to live with greater awareness, not more fear. And this is why we must live in continual repentance and confess our sins often – to God but to each other as well, as we are commanded to do in scripture. The heart indeed is desperately wicked, and we will need far more than pep talks and self-help books to live lives that are pleasing to God.

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What is the Place of Effort in the Life of a Christian?

People like to make resolutions at this time of the year and these resolutions are often forsaken before the year is half over. But we should resolve daily to do as Paul instructs in this passage: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” And we should be ruthless in our discernment, sparing no area of our lives. 

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Colossians 3:1-2

What is the place of effort in the life of a Christian?

We did not and cannot earn salvation by anything that we do or have done. No effort, no striving, no amount of self-improvement will ever make God look down and say “Ah – there is one who has made himself good enough for me to save! If only there were a few more like him!” We did not and cannot earn salvation by anything that we do or have done.

After we believe, after we have been saved and redeemed by God, we are to rest in Christ. In Heb 4:11 it says that we are to “strive to enter that rest.” The work is done and we can’t add to it; salvation is a complete work that we receive.

We rest in this salvation, but in other areas of the Christian life, after we are born again, there is effort involved. In 1 Tim. 4:7 we are told to discipline ourselves. In Phil. 3:14 we’re instructed to strive as an athlete striving to win the prize. In 2 Tim. 2:6: “Make an effort as a farmer who works hard in order to receive some of the reward from the vineyard.” In Eph. 6: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and the powers of this evil age.” And in 1 Cor. 9:27 Paul says “I put my body in subjection so that after preaching to others I myself might not be a cast away.” 

These all make sense when we remember Paul’s words in Phil 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God working in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Effort Applied

The Christian life is not a life without effort; the Christian life is one of applying effort to all that we are called by God to do. And God will empower us, by his Spirit, to accomplish whatever he commands us to. So, in the end, it is not a striving by human effort that makes the difference, but the complete surrender of obedience that aligns us with God’s will and supplies us with God’s power.

As we live out this new reality, we are instructed to, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” 

If you are hungry, you may find a grocery store, but finding the grocery store won’t solve your hunger. You need to enter, find the food, purchase the food, and eat the food. In the same way, it is not enough to merely know heavenly things; you must set your mind on them, devour them, ingest them. You must be preoccupied with them. True spirituality is not seeking spiritual experiences. It is not the pursuit of an emotional high. Emotions are a response to renewal, not the source of renewal.

True Spirituality

True spirituality is the practice of setting your mind on heavenly things. And setting your mind on heavenly things is the starting point and the accelerator of practical holiness. It is true that “we become what we behold.” We will take on the likeness of that to which we give our attention and affection. If to heavenly things, then holiness will result. If to earthly things, then wickedness and unholiness.

People like to make resolutions at this time of the year and these resolutions are often forsaken before the year is half over. But we should resolve daily to do as Paul instructs in this passage: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” And we should be ruthless in our discernment, sparing no area of our lives. 

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Believing and Affirming the Superior Promises of God

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

Romans 8:5

I have found this verse to be helpful in evaluating my everyday actions. Is what I’m doing/watching/saying/listening to feeding my flesh or my spirit? Will proceeding in this direction lead me to obedience or rebellion, to righteousness or sin?

This is an important evaluative tool because “to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6)

We all want life and peace but we sometimes pursue and indulge in that which will ultimately lead to death. Enticements to sin are constant, opportunities abound, and the promise of a quick remedy to our sadness or anxiety or fear is powerful in its draw.

It is only by affirming and believing the superior promises of God, and then acting in faith according to those promises that will we ever find true freedom and peace.

(I was helped tremendously in this area of thought by a book by John Piper called “Battling Unbelief”.)

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