Sometimes the picture that is presented to you isn’t encouraging. It’s convicting. Scarily convicting. I went to a women’s conference a few weeks ago. The topic was conflict. While I could write about the things I learned on conflict, I would like to instead focus on a different picture that came up in the midst of it. Adultery. We focused on James 4:1-12. James begins this chapter by bluntly telling his readers they are fighting because they are greedy, coveting and even praying for things to use for their own pleasure. He follows this point with “You adulterous people!” To make this more of a stunning picture for us, the speaker then shared a time in her marriage that her husband called her on a business trip when he arrived at a hotel. He said that he got there safely. At the end of the conversation, he neglected to hang up his phone. What his wife heard next was the sounds of an affair. She stopped speaking and let us all think about that situation for a minute. I put myself in her shoes and was flooded with emotion. “You!” she drew our attention back. “You adulterous people!” That dear brothers and sisters is what God is calling our relationship with sin.
We were dismissed into small groups and given some time to ponder a list of questions. I sat down reluctantly. I knew that this list was going to make me be honest with myself. Here are a few of the questions:
- Am I willing to sin to get this?
- Am I willing to sin if I think I’m going to lose this?
- Do I turn to this as a refuge and comfort instead of going to God?
When reading those questions, I was immediately uncomfortable because an answer came to my mind instantly. The first thing I thought of was ‘time to myself’. I crave this. I know I have manipulated situations in order to get it. It was only one answer though, I thought. So I settled back into my seat thinking “I can work on that”. But the list continued, those were just broad questions. Lest you miss anything the questions got more detailed. Here are some of the questions that hit me the hardest.
- What do you desire, seek, am for, pursue, hope for?
- What are your goals, expectations, intentions?
- Where do you put your basic trust?
- What would make you happy?
- How do you define success or failure in a particular situation?
- If you were lying on your deathbed, what to you would sum up your life as having been worthwhile?
Here’s my adultery: Perfectionism, pleasing others, accomplishments that make me look good. I’ve loved and pursued perfectionism, others, and success as defined by me. This boils down to living with and sleeping with PRIDE. I’ve given the love I promised to God to the god of myself. Yet there is hope, because even though I have looked for love notes from pride (compliments from others, recognition, etc.), James says “He gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (v. 6 and 8)
I hope and pray that you will take the time to ask yourself these questions and repent. God is worthy of our undivided love and devotion. No one likes to think of him/herself as an adulterer. We like to think we are above something like that. But what if it is not your spouse or future spouse, but someone much more? Can we really claim to have been perfectly faithful?
When you are done weeping over the sickening fact that you have committed adultery that you are not above that, I pray even more that you fall in love again with the true God who is so glorious that He will forgive you for it.
image credit: Madame X by John Singer (1884)