Out of Focus

29861But the people of Judah are stubborn and have turned against me. They have turned aside and gone away from me. They do not say to themselves, “We should fear the Lord our God, who gives us autumn and spring rains in their seasons, who makes sure we have the harvest at the right time.” But your evil has kept away both rain and harvest. Your sins have kept you from enjoying good things. Jeremiah 5:23-25

We can receive blessings but not enjoy them thoroughly, because we’re focused on the wrong things. Even in beautiful seasons of our lives, our perspective might be clouded. Our cups might overflow, but instead of being thankful, we complain about the spillage. We ask for rain and complain when we get “too much.” We ask for sunshine and complain when it’s “too hot.” We ask for growing plants to harvest and complain because of the care they require. We ask for a place to live and complain because of the repairs needed. We ask for a job and complain about the pay or lack of benefits.

Do you ever wonder if God just sighs and says, “Really?!”

Sometimes all that’s required to change our perspective is a simple attitude adjustment. Other times, something needs to be weeded out of our lives in order for us to see something from God’s perspective. When we’re in the middle of sin, our view is clouded. Much of the time, we rationalize or compartmentalize what we’re doing. We might think we’re only affecting ourselves and perhaps even just a small portion of our lives, but the stench of sin is invasive.

At the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, Colorado, a heavy door separates the peppermint room from all others. Peppermint is an invasive smell. If there wasn’t a dividing wall, the peppermint would invade other areas of the factory, affecting the taste of many other teas.

We can’t store sin in a neat box separate from the rest of our life. If our life has sin in it, that sin affects all areas of our life. I know this firsthand. Many years ago, I tried to compartmentalize some bad choices, rationalizing I could keep it from affecting all areas of my life, including my faith and relationships. However, when bacteria is kept in the dark, it grows. It gets moldy and musty and is simply nasty. There’s no use sugar-coating it. Sin is ugly, and until it is brought out into the light, it will contaminate everything around it. You might not see the contamination, most likely because you don’t want to see the contamination, but not recognizing it doesn’t make it not exist.

The great thing is that bringing sin into the light – God’s truth – immediately zaps it of its power. It might not be gone immediately, because there are often long-term ramifications to sin. There might be a remnant of stench but the power to grow ceases to exist (unless it is pushed back into the dark once again). Sin invades everything in your life like the scent and taste of peppermint, but unlike peppermint, the only way to deal with it is to get rid of it. Celestial Seasonings wants peppermint in its factory, because many people want peppermint tea in their houses and on their taste buds! If a substandard shipment of peppermint with a sour or bitter taste arrived at the factory, endangering the contamination of not only the peppermint tea but many other tea leaves it would invade, they would remove the shipment far from the factory. We must ask God to do the same with our sin.

How do the following verses speak to you?

John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west. (Psalm 103:12)

But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done. (1 John 1:9)

There’s another room that stays contained at Celestial Seasonings. It’s where the black tea is stored. It’s in a separate room for a different reason. It doesn’t invade all other scents and tastes. Black tea comes from the Camelia Sinensis tea plant, which easily absorbs scents and tastes of other ingredients. If we’re not attentive, our faith can do the same. Of course, we can’t close our faith off to every influence. We can’t compartmentalize it even in our own lives. We’re to be the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5), which means we live in the world to have an impact for God. We can’t close the door tightly behind us and become spiritual hermits. Scripture tells us to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28). However, when we’re in the world making disciples, the flow of influence doesn’t go one way. Just as we try to impact others’ lives, our lives are impacted as well – and if we’re not wearing the armor of God (Ephesians 6), we can absorb the world in ways that taint our faith.

We must live our lives as God intends. That means we see as God sees. It’s the only way we can (1) glorify him in all things, (2) recognize and appreciate the blessings he’s giving us, (3) meet challenges with grace and strength, and (4) impact others’ lives positively for God.

It’s time to get your life in focus and look through God’s perspective!

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