As I write this I have just returned from seeing a dermatologist to address a fairly large wart that had taken up residence on my right cheek. I also had him remove some scar tissue from my inner lip caused by years of accidentally biting it. While I was there the doctor wanted to check any moles I might have. One of them gave him some concern and he advised me that the best course of action would be to excise it and do a biopsy. And so he did.
I was told that I would hear back from them Friday, or Monday at the latest. I’m not too concerned about it, but it did get me thinking about holiness and the effect of thoughts or actions that are not necessarily sinful, but also may not be completely benign.
Positive thinking coaches have, for years, encouraged us to forsake the good for the benefit of the best. There are things in life, good things, that distract us from things that are much better. For me, focusing too much time and energy on my physical training distracts me from reading and writing. There’s nothing wrong with exercise, even serious training. But I will never be a world class athlete. To be honest, I don’t even have the desire to be a world class athlete. I do desire to be a writer. I know that I’ll only get better the more that I read and write. I want to be a blessing to others and help them on their spiritual journey. So I have cut out some of my physical training for growth in an area that has a higher priority for me.
Likewise, there are other things that may not be sinful, but they may not be helpful either. For a time I enjoyed watching MMA. It was neat to see some of the moves that were used to get out of a bind or submit an opponent. But I found over time that I had become desensitized to violence. What once struck me as brutal no longer shocked me. Stories on the local news that once raised the hair on the back of my neck no longer brought any sort of reaction. MMA needed to be cut off.
These are just a couple of examples from my own life of things that needed to be cut out so that my spiritual health and ministry could grow unchallenged.
Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12, ESV). And then he takes it a step further, “All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, ESV). In verse 33 of 1 Corinthians 10, he concludes, “just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (ESV).
Ask the Lord if there are things in your life that, for the sake of your spiritual growth and the salvation and growth of others, should be cut out. I’m not encouraging legalism. Jesus died a horrible death because of love. We can live our lives for Him, and for our neighbor, because of love, not law.