Behind the Mask

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” — James 5:16 (NIV)

Why do we like to keep our problems to ourselves? We do so for a number of reasons. Our fear that being candid about our problems would result in the loss of our respect and reputation in the eyes of those around us is a dominant one. Another reason is that we are too prideful to admit that there is something wrong with us and we soldier on, denying that there are issues in our lives which need to be dealt with. Yet another reason for Christians especially is the false assumption that followers of Christ need to have their lives in a constant state of perfection and it is unthinkable that a true Christian should have problems in their lives. Such an attitude in particular is soundly debunked considering the fact that there is not a sinless person in the Bible save or Christ Himself. All of the characters in God’s Word who are labelled “Heroes of the Faith” were broken and sinful people. Yet thankfully it was not their own efforts or deeds that made them righteous, but it was God’s work through them which sanctified them and made them obedient to His purposes.

No one is perfect in this world. The sinful nature of mankind is its equalizer and thus no one can truly be justified in adopting a “holier-than-thou” attitude because in all likelihood, they have many issues in their lives which need to be dealt with. This should serve as a strong reminder for Christians to discard any inhibitions they may have about sharing their problems with each other and seeking guidance from those who are also on a journey with Christ. Since God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit commune together as one, we as believers should adopt the same attitude if we want to follow Christ’s example. We are one body, a community where if one person hurts, the rest of the body feels it as well. We should never feel that being open with our problems will make us weak or vulnerable. More often than not, when a believer shares his problems with another, he will find that the person he is sharing his problems with is also dealing with same issue. Thus they may counsel, strengthen, and pray for each other, contributing to the unity of the brotherhood of Christ and to the refinement of fellow followers of the Saviour.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Eternal Treasures

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” – Proverbs 28:6 (ESV)

When the wicked seem to prosper and have it all together, we often wonder why this is the case. Why do the unscrupulous, despite their decadent lifestyles and questionable ethics seem to get fame, fortune, and success beyond their heart’s content, whereas the honest and diligent end up with nothing but misery? In light of this reality, it often leads people to question whether God is blind to this injustice. However, He is not. The very fact that God does not include wealth in His requirements into heaven, rather faith and obedience to Him and His Son, is indicative of the fact that material prosperity is immaterial to Him. For all the wealth they may have gained in this present life through deceit, the wicked will not prosper. If they are not punished in this life, they will be in the life hereafter. Money cannot buy you into heaven and thankfully so. Otherwise, it would make heaven a very corrupt place.

However, this does not necessarily mean that living a moral life would get one into heaven either. No one can truly claim to live a pure life because all have sinned against God in some manner, be it in word, deed, or thought. The strict standards of God on what constitutes as sin contain no loopholes. Only through a relationship with Christ could man hope of entering into heaven. But it comes at a price. Once we enter into a relationship with Christ, we are obligated to serve Him and follow His ways and standards. Since it is hard to let go of our sinful nature, we constantly need Christ to help us in our decision to choose integrity over dishonesty. Thus, for the Christian, he should not be concerned over the material pursuits of this world. He should not use underhanded methods to gain profit. Rather, should he pursue integrity with Christ as his Guide, he will be blessed even in his poverty and these blessings will be far more satisfying than those of an ill-earned material lifestyle. The comfort of eternal rewards in heaven for his obedience of Christ should be enough of an impetus for the believer to pursue integrity and righteousness.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Yearning through the Night

“My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” -Isaiah 26:9 (NIV)

I’ve often had sleepless nights. Not out of fear, but usually out of excitement. The promise of a much-anticipated trip or a reunion with an old friend whom I haven’t seen in years is enough to keep me up at night tossing and turning in a futile attempt to make morning come faster. Do I have the same reaction when it comes to spending time with God? Rarely, if never, have I had a night when I was sleepless on account of being excited about reading the Bible. Does this mean that I should? Perhaps. But in His goodness, God has given man the gift of sleep to rest his mortal body. Man is but dust, and I am thankful that I serve a God who understands this well. Besides, I hardly think that God wants His message to be spread by insomniacs. How ineffective a witness that would be for the Christian!

But like all verses in the Bible this one raises a good point. How often do I rush through my morning not stopping to spend time in His Word? I would like to describe myself as someone who pursues righteousness, justice, and truth. But what good is this pursuit without consulting the perfect source from which all these things flow? Can man comprehend the standards God has placed on these qualities? To an extent perhaps, but as with anything man touches, even the most purest of pursuits end up tainted by his sinful nature. It is only through reading God’s Word that the Christian may understand such concepts in their purest form, and interact with them in a way that glorifies God and alleviates the suffering of the world. That alone should keep me up at night.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.