Gradually Chipping Away

How does a person, or a country, or a church fall in to decline? I hear it all the time. "It's not how it once was." We like to look at all the reasons something falls in to decline, but when it all boils down to it, the simple answer is neglect. We fail to take careful attention to little details that maintain something, a building, an organization, a life. Slowly but surely, we lose what we value in what was once a small drip of tiny details, and are awash in a stream, and then a river of them. The floor gives way, and it all falls apart. Every time I read in the Old Testament, it was not a sudden decline, but it was a gradual slope; forgetting Holy Days, not making sure of the purity of sacrifices, not following this "little" law, or that. Then, Israel, steeped in idolatry would find themselves on the receiving end of God's discipline, and wonder why they were there. It was only the leaders that cared to restore it back to God's way that ever made any head way.


The New Testament is riddled with such things as well. In fact, we have most of the New Testament because people just were not getting it; they kept running to teachings that sounded good, but were more self-edifying than God Glorifying. And most of it began with small compromises. Churches and Lives don't crumble in an instant; it's a gradual slope of compromise after compromise, trading Holiness for something that fits our wants, wishes and desires. We need to be loving, yes, BUT, in being loving, We CANNOT compromise the word of God. We do things His way. If you take God on your terms, than you do not have Him at all. We must come to Him on His; Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, "If you love me, you must keep my commandments" (John 14:15, elsewhere). There's no room for compromise. Live your life in such a way as to reflect Jesus as He is, not as You would have Him.

Romans 12 English Standard Version (ESV)


A Living Sacrifice


12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]


Gifts of Grace


For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.


Marks of the True Christian


Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.


14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary,


“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”


21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Footnotes:

a. Romans 12:1 Or brothers and sisters

b. Romans 12:1 Or your rational service

c. Romans 12:2 Greek age

d. Romans 12:2 Or what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God

e. Romans 12:4 Greek parts; also verse 5

f. Romans 12:8 Or gives aid

g. Romans 12:11 Or fervent in the Spirit

e. Romans 12:16 Or give yourselves to humble tasks

f. Romans 12:19 Greek give place


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