I enjoy making trades. Back in ’78, I swapped a well-used ’73 Honda 750 and a few bucks for a nearly new ’78 Goldwing. The pic above shows an authentic Colt .45 from 1889, that my dad’s brother got in trade for a pocketknife, in about 1925. The Colt has a value of about $2,000—I’m sure the knife got thrown out or lost quite some time ago. A recent and much better trade has made a huge difference in my walking with Jesus.
Most of us face a particular sin that we continue to struggle with, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT, emphasis added).
The sin that easily trips us can be lust, greed, selfishness, laziness, workaholism, or whatever—but we can’t seem to break its grip. Sin in any form brings two problems, both major. First, God realizes that sin brings damage to us and to others. Second, sin forces distance between us and God. Why do we think that unholy behavior by us is compatible with a holy God? This verse haunts me, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
So, I’m making a trade. I’ve found I can discount the damage my sins bring to me. I manage them. I carefully calculate the risk/reward, and too often I find myself rationalizing that it won’t hurt me THAT much. So, for me, that first option hasn’t always worked with resisting some temptations. I’m trading the first for the second.
The more I sin, the more distance and alienation I create between the God I love and have given my life to. For some strange reason that I can’t explain, that matters more than the damage sin brings to myself. Instead of asking myself if the pleasure sin can bring is greater than the damage I would face, I’m asking, will I sacrifice intimacy with God over this? Do I want to hang on to the sin or to God?
Be careful, I’m not talking about losing faith or a relationship here. But I do diminish my faith and relationship. That fear should be at the front of our minds, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
So, the trade. Closeness to God brings more pleasure than any sin can possibly do. Think it might work for you?
Kick Starting the Application
Do you have a sin that keeps tripping you up? What makes you most vulnerable here? What has been your most effective strategy at resisting it? Are you satisfied with how it works? Does the first or second method work best for you? I suspect this can vary between individuals. Are you willing to try a trade for a week or two?