by Pastor Tim Burt
I gave my life to the Lord at the age of 24 years old. Prior to that, I didn’t know the Lord as I do today. I knew Him as a story and holiday movie figure, but not personally or intimately. He was up there and I was down here. I figured that if He did exist, He was far too busy to give a rip about me. Consequently, I was not living my life for the Lord but for me—doing whatever I felt like doing. I was the Lord over my life and my goals were to accumulate cool stuff, have as much fun as possible, and try to be a reasonably good guy in the process.
I thought it was normal to connive or lie or cheat or even occasionally steal to get what I wanted. Almost everyone I knew thought that. Actually surveys have shown that most people do think that. And that is a problem that has hurt mankind from the beginning. Genesis 6:5 KJV says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
There are many ways to steal that people considered normal, such as calling in sick for work and getting paid for it when they aren’t sick. There were so many people doing that, that companies decided to call them personal days off (PTO) so they didn’t have to listen to people’s lies. I am embarrassed to admit that before I gave my life to Jesus, I was guilty of this and other inappropriate behaviors and activities that many people consider normal, but the Bible considers sin. Jesus has taught me since then, that just because something is culturally normal and most everyone does it, does not mean that it’s biblically acceptable. To the contrary, the Bible has taught me the things that are wrong and considered sin in God’s eyes. And the Lord has helped me rid my life of them!
Jesus changed my perspective of how to live my life. His Holy Spirit graciously exposed my deception by illuminating His truths to me. Ephesians 4:28 NLT says, “If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work and then give generously to others in need.” When I first saw these words of instructions from God, the words were like a punch in the gut. I could also see my sins in Proverbs 6:18 NKJV. “A heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil.” It wasn’t that I was a big schemer or majorly evil, but I did see degrees of wrong imaginations, lying, and scheming to get what I wanted. His Word purged that from my life. While God teaching me a better way, He was never condemning me. John 3:17 (NKJV) “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” It’s like He was saying, Let me show you how to think through these things with right motivation and integrity. It was to save me from myself and the evil influences in this world, and put me on a better path—His path that would lead to true joy, peace, and blessing!
All of these sins were a part of a bigger problem—fear! I would have never recognized that without the illumination of God’s Word. I knew nothing about the promises of God. I figured you had to go out and get what you wanted no matter what it took and regardless of whom you hurt. I was fearful that I would never have enough and it led me to imagine and carry out evil and scheming thoughts. As I read that Bible, I discovered that everything good in life comes from God and that He is merciful and so very willing to help us with every need in our life—if we will just pray and have faith in His promises to do so.
We’re supposed to be good and do good but we will always fall short. Jesus gave us His love when we did not deserve it. He forgave our sins when we did not deserve it. Psalm 103:10 NLT says, “He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does He deal harshly with us as we deserve.” Instead He gives us His precious promises when we trust Him by faith rather than leaning on our own ability. 2 Peter 1:4 NIV says, “Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may
participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused
by evil desires.” Do we deserve His supernatural help? Do we deserve His supernatural protection? Do we deserve all His promises of blessing? No but He gives them to those who will trust and have faith in His desire to help. That and only that is what keeps people from lying, cheating, scheming, and conniving to meet their needs when times seem impossibly tough.
In chapter 19 we read about a thieving, conniving tax collector named Zacchaeus. After he spent some time with Jesus, he experienced a complete transformation of heart. Luke 19:8-9 (NIV) says, “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.”
God wants you to have great faith in Him, not a life of fear and anxiety that tempts you to violate integrity. He wants His blessing upon your life. He wants to teach you honesty and integrity. He will teach you to be faithful and diligent. Have faith in Him and see His helping hand manifest over all your life as you patiently trust Him and forsake those things that have you operate out of fear.
Acts 3:25 NLT “You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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