Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- September 29, 2010
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV
Perception is reality in the eyes of the beholder, so what does the world see in me? Am I known as a committed Christian on Sunday and someone who is somewhat shady the other six days of the week? Where I go, what I do and whom I spend time with gives the appearance of good or bad behavior. The Lord calls us to abstain from unseemly activity.
Corrupt affections cause us to pervert what God intended as good, while a pure heart can’t help but love as the Lord loves. It is in our autonomy that temptations raise their appealing head and cause us to deceive ourselves. What seems as an innocent flirtation may appear as an invitation to unfaithfulness. What looks like a sloppy expense report may appear as lack of integrity. What resembles inconsistency communicates hypocrisy.
So we have to ask ourselves, “Is our testimony for Christ trustworthy and true?” Do we represent Him well in the world or have we diluted the Christian brand with bad associations? Jesus prayed for us, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17:15-16). So Jesus followers are to be in this world, but not of this world.
There is always a risk of being branded “a friend of sinners”, but it is a compliment to be labeled like our Lord was labeled. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus loved relationally.
Evil appearances attract a heart comfortable with sin, but not a heart adverse to sin. We are commanded to love the sinner without being soiled by their sin. Like Jesus we are called to get our hands dirty in the messiness of life—while bringing hope, holiness and wholeness to recipients of God’s grace. Life motivated by true love is a good appearance.
So how do we embrace good appearances and avoid bad appearances? We pray, we set standards based on the wisdom of God’s word and we seek accountability from trusted friends. Believers snared by certain behaviors in the past are wise to avoid them in the present. Abstain from those attitudes and actions that dilute your fidelity to faith in Jesus.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Am I above reproach in my money management, sexual purity and truthfulness?
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