Monday, August 16, 2004

the purity of kindness

Today I had a thought while riding with Tim, my pastor and brother-in-law, to pick out a new keyboard for the worship team. We talked about how easy it is for a lot of Christians to feel safe and somehow further along the path than "the godless heathen". We don't murder people, take drugs, spend everynight tying one on. We don't have multiple sex partners (on the whole) or engage in prostitution. We promote personal purity.

It's easy, though, to rip a brother or sister in Christ's head off, whether in public or private. To harbor a grudge, in some cases--if honesty were being served and we were truthful about our thoughts and actions--to hate someone. To say things that aren't exactly uplifting or kind. (God forbid, however, we say "hell" or "damn". And the F-word? By their fruits you'll know them and the F-word isn't a fruit a saved person would bear!) In other words, we can be mean, backbiting, nasty people. But if we keep our pants zipped, our heads clear and our mouths clean, we're pure.

But I wonder if that's all there is to purity? Doesn't purity, while including self-control, also include things like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness? Is there an inner purity that we've overlooked because we've categorized the sins Christians have the most trouble with as "clean sins?" And why don't these matter too? Why does James Dobson say that Gay Marriage is the greatest assault on the American family, (a "purity" issue), when we know that divorce is, (and the Church's rate is no better than the general population's) and that many times divorce doesn't start with a sin of the appetite, but the sin of impatience, rudeness, lack of love, anger or unfaithfulness in the everyday commitment to being married?

Maybe purity, in the sight of God, is just as much about the inside as it is about the outside. Maybe more. Just a thought.




Blogger Kevin said...

In Mark 7 the Pharisees try to get Jesus and his buddies about being unclean because they didn't wash their hands. They were in for it then. He starts talking about how nothing going into a man makes him unclean, but what comes out of a man does. In verse 21 he has a list going that includes murder, sexual immorality, adultery, theft....but it also includes greed, malice, deceit, envy, slander, arrogance, etc...

I would hate to refer to us Christians as Pharisees, but we can come oftly close when we always focus on external things, the big sins!!! We toss insults out like it was our job. We are arrogant when we think we are better than others when all of us are in the same boat. I struggle with this (but not as much as "so and so"!!!!!!!!).

August 16, 2004 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger michael snyder said...

Amen and amen!

In other words, holy crap! I couldn't agree more, Lisa.

August 16, 2004 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Excellent thoughts, Lisa. I do think that Dobson probably agrees with your thoughts on divorce as well, but it's all too true that the church often focuses on that kind of sin while ignoring the ones festering in our hearts.

August 17, 2004 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger sherri said...

This is an issue I often struggle with. Why can the person who has an anger problem sit in church feeling totally righteous, when the person whose area of sin is sexual must hide it at all costs, because if it were known, they would most likely never be trusted again by the Christian community.

I painted the following verse on our bathroom wall--
"First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." Matthew 23:26b -- Jesus said it after listing the seven woes to the blind Pharisees--a passage that we often gloss over thinking it just doesn't apply. Hmmm...

August 17, 2004 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger upwords said...


Good stuff today. I often wonder if we don't try so hard to be sure that everybody is following the rules because the love required to truly change hearts is a price too high. I'm oh so guilty. . .

Off to add some feet to my prayers,
Mary G

August 17, 2004 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

Wonderful post, Lisa. We do need more purity on the inside. It will transform the outside as well, but our heart is more important than the number of times we swear (or use a substitute, as I tend to do).

And yes, divorce is worse than gay marriage. We should focus on sticking together, toughing it out and putting away selfishness. After we've taken care of ourselves, then we can discuss the speck in another's eye.

August 17, 2004 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Hi Lisa... Your blog entry inspired my own this morning. After reading yours, I couldn't wait to jump over to my blog to write my thoughts about it~~so thanks! Here is what I wrote (hopefully my blog address will appear here) :o) :

The title is Behind Closed Doors.

God bless and thanks again! ...Debra

August 17, 2004 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Thank you! Thank you, Lisa!

When we think about our behavior we get caught up in either feeling good about ourselves because we're doing it "right" or devastated when we blow it. I, for one, have agonized deeply over things like losing it with my children or being selfish. The whole point, I think, if realizing that it is God's grace that empowers us to change from the heart. As we focus on Him we start to care about the inner stuff and we let Him change it. The danger for me has always been to beat myself up for the failings of the inner person. That, too, is under the blood of Jesus Christ. If I focus on trying to change all those inner sins I end up failing and despondent. If I focus on Christ and lay my life at His feet He changes me.

I believe God's conviction is always followed by a sense of how much He loves us and the empowerment to change by His grace. When guilt reigns and I feel awful and unable to go on, chances are I'm the enemy of my soul is pulling me down. I just need to confess my sin and seek Christ. He will change me from the inside out.

This post has got me going. I think I'll respond further on my blog:

Bless you!

August 17, 2004 at 4:53 PM  
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