Do you know that there is one terrible sin invisible to the naked eye? It is a sin that may kill you without you even knowing it, or one that allows you to be unconsciously guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-22). It acts like a cancer spreading in the innards of person, be it a corrupt politician or a 30-year Christian. It is a sin that no one is courageous enough to admit.
What sin is this you may ask? Make a quick guess.
That sin is nothing but PRIDE. The sin of Israel. If you read the accounts of Israel from Jeremiah to Hosea, God was enraged because of their pride. This is also the sin of the current church. Nothing new. As they say, Everything that goes around, comes around." Or in the words of Solomon (Ecclesiastes 3:15), "Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account."
And perhaps, the is also the sin of you and me. Here is a short test to check if you are guilty of this very dangerous sin.
1. Do you feel that your relationship with the Lord is dry?
Dryness is a situation where there is no joy and gladness in doing the Lord's work. Each day becomes a drag. You feel burdened, burnt-out and bored. This happens when you depend solely on your own strength. Our strength is (almost always) inadequate to love, to live peacefully and to have hope because of our inherent moral decay. Pride hinders us from turning to the Lord because we think that we can still do everything based on our own strength.
Do you depend on your gifts/talents and resources, just as the Israelites had depended on their own weapons and chariots? Do you depend on your power and network just as the Israelites had depended on their own armies and partnerships?
2. Do you have time to work and no time to listen?
Here is the word of the wise (Ecclesiastes 5:1), "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong." I've witnessed several times in the church that people are ready to serve the Lord, and yet when asked about their relationship with Him, it's nada. They don't spend quiet time with Him within the week. Neither praying nor reading His word is part of their agenda.
God is NOT pleased when anyone sacrifices through one's own ways or means. Doing something for God without the love for, listening, and being with, Him is nothing but an empty mockery to Him. If you are guilty of this item, pause and listen to Him. Do what He wants you to do, not what you think He wants you to do.
- "The multitude of your sacrifices--what are they to me?" says the Lord, "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats." (Isaiah 1:11)
- Though they offer the sacrifices to me and though they eat the meat, the Lord is not pleased with them. (Hosea 8:13)
- "What do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me." (Jeremiah 6:20)
Of course, we do not see much burnt offerings as "sacrifices" in churches nowadays. There are still sacrifices being made though. The time and effort we put into preparing projects for the Lord (i.e. Evangelistic events, camps, Medical mission). The voices we exert when we sing praises to Him every sunday. The tithes and offerings we place in white envelopes. The small groups that we lead with tears, perspiration and dedication.
However, the degree of effort that we put in does NOT equate to the degree of God's delight in us. God may not be pleased with our hardwork when our heart is away from Him. He asks us instead to "Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord." ~ Hosea 10:12
3. Are you tired of other people's actions?
Or, do you think you are any better than them? Pride magnifies the sins of others in order to minimize one's own. Pride pushes the other people down by looking at the speck of dust in the other's eye, without realizing that there's a plank in one's own eye. I was guilty of this too. It was God's word in Hosea that pierced my heart and convicted me that: I get ticked off by actions of other people of which I myself am equally guilty of. The character traits that we abhor in another are most probably the same character traits that we fail to see in ourselves.
Try observing and analyzing. If you are irritated with a brother who seems to be not caring, check yourself.. Have you been caring for other people? If you abhor people who are boastful..have you been humble? Before you criticize another, look at yourself in the mirror.
4. Do you see yourself as good?
When was the last time you repented wholeheartedly? When was the last time you acknowledged a sin and sought the Lord? Pride blinds us to our faults and our weaknesses. Pride hinders us to accept the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, because we do not see a need for it. The more we do not need Christ, the more we need Him. Pride leads to death, dear readers.
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If you answered YES to at least one (1) question, this is what you must do:
Return (Israel) to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. (Hosea 14:1-2)
If you answered NO to all four (4) questions, this is what you must do:
Find a mature Christian, accountability partner or a cellgroup mate that you trust. Ask them to do the same assessment of you. If their answer is still no to all four, then praise be to God! At the same time, "make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8).