What will be the Hardest Thing for You to Put on the Altar this week?
May 6, 2013 at 1:22pm
From the Scriptures, we believe in an ongoing bringing to the altar or confession...
it is part of our walk with God, our daily bearing of our cross.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… –Heb 12:1
We call this concept different terms--
deny, give up, let go of, giving it to God, lay on the altar,
leave at the cross, being a living sacrifice, etc.
and the concept in the NTLetters (Gal 5:24, Col 3:8, Eph 4:22,31, 1 Pet 2:1, Jam 1:21)
has been translated rid yourself, put away, lay aside, put off, throw off--
This is the concept:
We understand that there are things that
we should consciously and continually lay at the Cross –
cravings, lusts, vices, sins, selfishness, guilt,
shame, fear, pain, hurts, etc…
But perhaps the hardest thing to leave at the cross is our virtues…
Paul wrote, “Knowledge puffs up.” 1 Cor 8:1
Is Paul condemning knowledge?
No, we are to be filled with knowledge (Rom 15:14). He is warning us that if you are a grammar expert, or exceed in the knowledge of mechanics, Bible, literature, languages, science, music, history or current events.
it is easy to look down on others who are not as informed as you.
Paul is warning us against being self-righteous--
Almost any virtue (talent, ability, strength or quality) that we hold up, puffs up.
“I’m a good person”, “I always try to be fair (or kind, truthful, generous, honest, courteous, etc.)”,
“I worked my way up, building my career (or my own business)", "I've never been unemployed",
"I worked my way through college”, "I never curse or swear", "I have never smoked",
“I just use common sense”, "I always try to treat others as I want to be treated",
“I always ________________”, "I would never ________________".
Whatever virtue a mature person sees as valuable,
he must continually bring it to the cross or be in danger of
‘thinking of himself more highly than he ought.’ (Rom12:3)
So with this more challenging concept in mind--
"I must bring my virtues, abilities and my strengths to the cross
as well as my vices, limitations and weaknesses"
reread and rethink thesepassages:
Philippians 3:7-9 (Contemporary English Version)
But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.
Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage.
All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to Him.
I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses.
God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ.
Based on Eugene Peterson’s The Message
So here’s what I want you to do, with God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life--
your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life--
place it before God as an offering
Embracing that what God is seeking to do in you
is the best thing you can do for Him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture
that you fit into it without even thinking.
fix your attention on God.
You’ll be changed from the inside out.
what He wants from you,
and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you,
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,
brings the best out of you,
and develops well-formed maturity in you.
——Adaptedfrom Eugene Peterson’s The Message--
What virtues do you tend to hold up and hold onto as part of your identity?
What virtues cause you to look critically at those who don’t have them?
What virtues do you allow to puff yourself up?
What virtue is God bringing forward right now that you need to bring to the cross?
forgive me when I take pride in my supposed ‘virtues’,
when I idolize _______virtue____________, putting it above Your grace.
If there is any good in me at all, it is from You.
May I be constantly aware that
any effort, any good thought, any positive aspect of me
is junk compared to knowing You.
May I be identified
not by virtues of my own effort,
but having the righteousness that comes from You through faith.
Doug McCulley, May 6, 2013