Joshua 6:17 – But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it. (HCSB)
Joshua 7:21 – When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.” (HCSB)
My grand daughter was eating chocolate syrup on her ice cream when she turned to my husband and said, “I may have gotten a little on my shirt.” When my husband looked, chocolate syrup was smeared across her entire chest and down across her tummy! What started out as a barely noticeable spot became a huge stain when she tried to wipe it away. I started thinking about how that so often happens with our sin. We commit a “little” sin, but rather that confess and deal with the consequences, we try to hide it, pretend it never happened, wipe it away. I recently saw “little sins grow fast” posted on a social media site. Sir Walter Scott in the book Marmion summed it up with “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”. A simple translation of that quote might be “what complications we create when we try to hide a simple mistake.” Joshua 7:20-26 tells us the story of Achan. Joshua 6:20 says there was a trumpet blast, then a great shout, then the walls of Jericho collapsed – the walls of Jericho had fallen because people gave a loud shout! Achan’s adrenalin must have been pumping! Then he goes into the city, and there is just so much stuff – shiny stuff, sparkly stuff, colorful stuff. More stuff than anyone could ever use. And, he wanted some of that stuff so badly. Oh, he knew that God had said not to take anything, but he only took a small fraction of what was there so it was just a little sin, and he was sure he could hide it so that no one would even know. But, like the chocolate on my grand daughter’s shirt, his sins were discovered. Joshua 7:24-25 describes how not only Achan paid for his sin but his family also paid a great price. Lord, we know that sin creates a barrier between us and You (Isaiah 59:2), and Jesus told us in Luke 12:2-3 that our sins will be revealed. As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
Psalm 51:2 – Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (NKJV)
I started pulling up the carpeting in one of our rooms today. To just look at it, it looked okay. I’m pulling it up because we are putting in wood flooring. As I was pulling up pieces, I started noticing stains and marks on the underside. What was visible looked good, but the hidden parts were stained. Some of the stains were new, some were many years old, but I had spent many hours and put much hard work into hiding them from sight. As I took my coffee break, I started thinking about myself and how I am exactly like that carpet. I have wrinkles, gray hairs, and could stand to lose a few pounds, but overall, I look okay on the outside. But, when God looks at my innermost being, my true inside, how do I look? He sees the stains left by sin in my life. To the world, it looks as if I have forgiven that person, but is the stain of an unforgiving nature still there? What about the stain of that sin I’ve hidden for so long, the one no one knows about? Just as I have spent many hours and put much hard work into trying to hide the stains in the dirty carpet, I have spent many hours and put much hard work into trying to hide the stain of sin in my life. Some of my sin stains are because, even though I have asked for God’s forgiveness, I am so ashamed that I can’t forgive myself. Some of my sin stains are because, even though I asked for God’s forgiveness, I still tend to revisit the memory of that sin. Psalm 5:17 says that I need to come to You with a contrite heart. Lord, I am kneeling before You today, not only discarding stained carpet but asking You to discard the stain of sin in my life. As David prayed in Psalm 51:2, I am praying today.
Psalm 55: 12-14 – Now it is not an enemy who insults me—
otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me—otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. (HCSB)
Matthew 7:1-3 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? (HCSB)
My friends and I are sipping coffee and talking about this and that, life in general, and the burdens of our hearts. We are all wives and moms, so “the burdens of our hearts” is actually just a phrase that means “our families”. As I’m listening to my friends talk, I hear statements like “I don’t want anyone in our church family to know about this” or “I don’t talk about this in our Sunday School class”. As they share, I hear voices and see faces from the past expressing the same concerns. Lord, I am so sad! When did the body of Christ start pounding with a gavel of judgment rather than protecting with the grace of Jesus? When did the church stop being a sanctuary for the hurting and become only a stage for the happy? When did abandonment and maliciousness replace allegiance and mercy? When did the people who should be our protectors become our prosecutors? Lord, I see in Psalm 55:12-14 that David had these same experiences. It was his close friend and fellow church member who was attacking him. We call ourselves “the body of Christ”, and we know that as with our human bodies, if one part hurts it affects the entire body. 1 Corinthians 12:26 tells us that is also true of the church body. Matthew 7:3 asks us how we can see someone else’s sin so clearly but not see that we too have sin. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to build each other up with encouragement. Romans 3:23 says that none of us is without sin, and both Jesus (Matthew 7) and Paul (Romans 2) tell us that we have no right to judge. We give testimony of grace. We ask for grace. We expect grace. How can we then not extend grace?