“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:18-23).
What a painfully transparent passage. Paul opens his great theologically-immersed, doctrine-laden heart and pours out it’s contents. We’d say today this passage is “raw.” It is poignant. in the chapter before he made it clear that he, yes, he, the great apostle Paul, remained in the struggle against flesh, the struggle over sin (7:23-24).
We used to ask “how are you?” And often the hidden lie would come back with a friendly “Fine.” Today it is complimentary comments on Facebook quotes or “hearts” on an Instagram posting. Each saying the same thing “perfect” - “beautiful” - “wonderful family” -“how special” - “couldn’t be better” - “special family” - I could go on, because comments like these are so very beautiful and make my heart race.
But it happened again today - one of those perfect families turned out not to be so perfect. One of those lucky girls slipped into an improper relationship, one of those blessed guys forgot his vows. And we find ourselves asking: Married to her, so beautiful, how could he? Married to a great guy like him, such a spouse, how could she? They have such a great thing, how could they?
It happened again today, a good man gave into sin. He had a “perfect life” - “a beautiful family” - “a great job” - “a sparkling reputation” - “a strong influence.” And people are shaking their heads and asking “how” and “why?” It seems I hear something like that about once a week.
And I’m reminded of a few things we all need to keep in mind:
- “…the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves…wait eagerly for…the redemption of our bodies.” We all stumble. I must remember that even when aiding another I have to “consider” myself for I am “also tempted” (Galatians 6:1-2). There is not a one of US who is above sin, who cannot fail and fall.
- I believe we all have our “besetting sin” (Hebrews 12:1). Theologians argue over whether the sin mentioned there is a specific sin. As in the idea that we all have a sin that plagues us all lifelong. I’m not tempted by alcohol but I am by pride - both sinful - which will satan dangle before ME? The other side is that any sin is besetting/entangling. Forget the argument but don’t forget that there are specific things you will be susceptible to and that satan will make those most available to you.
- If you are doing well, congratulations. While perfection this side of eternity is not possible, spiritual health is. BUT beware. 1 Corinthians 10:12 could not be more plain unless it had your name on it. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Why would satan not go after the God’s best, His strongest - that evil demon doesn’t have to tempt the weakest. If he isn’t tempting you it would only be because he already has you. So - elders, preachers, ministers - be especially on guard.
- We all need someone (some of us need someones) to be accountable to. People who we trust, who love us, who are godly and who care about us deeply enough to call us into question. James is pretty plain about the need to confess our sins to one another (5:16).
- We remember - Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world (it was already condemned) but that WE might have life! (John 3:17). Next time you hear of a brother or sister who stumbles that you thought was so very strong and solid. Reach out to THEM. Don’t talk about them, talk to them. In love let them know you care, understand, will listen, and encourage. If you don’t satan is more than willing to give them solace.
All of this BECAUSE as much as social media makes pictures look pretty it also makes us liars - The perfect does not exist this side of eternity. Let’s encourage each other.