"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34
I just finished reading a presidential biography written by a man who walked this politico through several campaigns for state and national office. If half of what written is true, we have had a country in moral meltdown for decades. The level of personal and corporate rebellion revealed in this book staggered me. The spirit of lawlessness that is held by those who hold our highest offices is appalling. The willingness of people to serve the interests of such people and then transition themselves to be highly paid spokespersons of insight and wisdom to our nation on national cable shows is troubling. Have they no shame? I am haunted by the statement, "What the leader does in moderation, the people will do in excess."
The Pharisees believed prayer, giving, and fasting were the three vital signs of righteousness. They agreed among themselves that doing these things not only made them right with God, but better than every one else. Jesus did not condemn their choice of righteous acts. He judged their hearts. He knew they may have been doing what was right, but they still had a rebellious attitude towards God. They resented having to jump through hoops, and believed God owed them health, wealth, power and prestige for doing so. They killed Jesus for exposing them as posers and hypocrites for doing the right things with the wrong heart or attitude.
Miss Sheldon was my third grade teacher at O.M. Roberts elementary school in Dallas, Texas. She was the first person who challenged me to believe one person can make a difference in the world. She saw a problem with littering and challenged us all to spend the rest of our lives resisting the urge to be a litterbug. She led us in a pledge that made us part of a club, and handed out membership cards. I kept the card in my Roy Rogers plastic wallet until it became so ragged that it had the texture of gauze. The symbol decayed, but I have kept the pledge for half a century. To this day, I still want to slam my car into a senseless jerk who can't keep his flaming cigarette butt in his car. Why does he have to throw his cans and fastfood debris out the window while speeding 15 miles over the posted limit. So glad he wants a smoke free, litter free environment in his truck. Guess his garbage is too heavy for his four wheel drive to carry. Bless his heart. Note: God knows I mean something else.
"Righteousness exalts a nation." So how does one person make a big difference? How does one person's right thinking and right living exalt an entire nation. Simple answer: One person at a time. Simply put, right is the opposite of wrong. That is the easy part. Now the real problem is for a nation to agree on what is right and what is wrong. "The Sixties" produced alot of insipid and insidious statements that became ingrained in a generation people now leading our nation. One of the most dangerous ones was, "It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere." I guess in the drug fogged haze of that decade this appeared to be a postive politically correct sense of direction. Guess they missed, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) Their stinking thinking, and foggy logic paved the way for good Christian people to agree that a baby did not have any rights in need of protection. The death toll is in the millions and rising. What seems right is not always what is right.
"Sin is a disgrace to any people." O, really? Recent events in our country lead me to believe that on a national level there has been the death of shame in America. We love our celebrities. Pastors can put aside their wives and still carry on national TV programs as if nothing happened. Politicians can hire a word smith to parse phrases needed to say just enough to bounce opinion polls in favorable direction. Watch an episode of "Cops," "Speeders", "Cheaters," "Dr. Phil," and you see an attitude of rebellion that reaches every level of our culture.
Sin begins with a wrong attitude and leads to wrong behavior. The message of Proverbs bases sin on a person's frame of mind towards what God has to say to them. Any defiance of God's commandments begins with a hatred in the heart for God's Word. The post-modern thought of recent years has removed the authority of God from the national arena. "What is true for you is not true for me." is their contribution to the debate on right and wrong.
So what can be done? Admit today that you are the only person in this world that you have any control over. You can whine all you want about the behavior of people in high places and the ruin posed by politically correct thinking. Stop cursing the darkness and light the way. If you are one of the few that see that our nation is in trouble it is because God is creating a new hunger and a new thirst in the hearts of a group of people who are weary of swallowing the swill of sin.
Jesus established the constitution of His Kingdom with the preamble, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." (Matthew 5:6) Your hunger and thirst are vital signs of a fresh work God is doing in your life. Don't settle for a quick snack of Christian Lite. Start savoring the smell of the feast God is preparing for people who will drop their greasy sack of politically correct or culturally compromised bologna sandwiches and come to His banquet table.
Don't substitute doing the right thing for becoming the right person. God knows you heart and will accept you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way He found you. Jesus said, "Except your righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20) Jesus stamps in blood, "Born Again," on the passports of the citizens of His Kingdom.
You are responsible to God for your attitude towards God and His Word. A lawyer practices law. A doctor practices medicine. A musician practices his music. A child of God practices Christianity. Each discipline has a set of guidelines that when followed will lead to the right result. Christians are declared right by Sovereign God when they place their trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Citizens of Christ's Kingdom are part of the family of God. They are not immune from the temptation of sin, but they react to it differently. It shames them to bring embarrassment on the family. They may stumble and fall. They may fail to make the right choices. They may not always have the right heart attitude even when they do the right thing. The difference is a willingness of heart to agree with their Father that they are on the wrong path. They step our of the dark and ask God for His light. They follow His directions to get back on course. They respect their Father's counsel, and reject their own rebellious attitude.
This is called practicing Christianity. To do less is to practice sin, and God says that is a disgrace to any people. "No one who is born of God practices sin...By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, not the one who does not love his brother." (I John 3:9-10) Got to go. God has called a special practice session just for me to get me ready for the big game tomorrow.