Seven Deadly Sins Series

Seven Deadly What???

“ There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness that pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in a community”( Proverbs 6).

What To Say When Your Friend Compares You To A Sloth

I’m pretty sure if anyone ever told me I looked like a sloth, I would deck them. Who wants to be compared to a tropical animal that looks like someone on sedatives hanging upside down from a tree? Sloth is also mentioned in a much different light than a mammal when it is named among the other seven deadly sins. The definition of sloth is a reluctance to work or make an effort. Sound like anyone you know? Our culture seems to be absolutely riddled nowadays with a big lack of a work ethic. We all know who I’m talking about, that one person you work with you who pretends to be sick so they can go home early? That person that seems to be near tears when they’re never scheduled, but once they get more hours are constantly calling off.

But sloth does not just apply to an actual job, it can apply to any area of our lives. It can be not studying as hard as you need to for your Chemistry test because you feel like trying to beat your high score on Candy Crush instead. Or it can be not truly giving you best effort at a sporting event because you have natural ability and sometimes it’s easier just to coast.  It’s not putting any effort into a friendship or relationship because it makes YOU feel uncomfortable or sometimes they dare to not be perfect.  Sloth is now starting to look an awful lot like selfishness.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not man. Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Colossians 3:23-24.

This verse has a lot of truth. I think sometimes we get stuck in mundane minimum wage jobs that we hate, relationships we are dying to escape with a family member, and attending a school where putting in our best effort doesn’t always translate over into As. You might be thinking right about now who even cares? If I’m still putting in some effort I’m good, right? Wrong. Here’s an example.

Say you have a job at a retail store this summer. On the weekends you find yourself constantly surrounded by foreign people who keep yelling S at the top of the lungs in your face to convey what size they need. Say one of them flags you down and asks you to get them a size in the midst of an afternoon of craziness. You are swamped so instead of going to the back to check, you wander around a bit and then inform them you don’t have the size. No one gets hurt and you have time to put away some more go backs from the fitting room. No one saw, so your reputation as a good worker hasn’t been tarnished, but God saw.

This is one of those times that God knowing our every move isn’t comforting. God alone knows when we’ve truly put in our best efforts and the times when we’ve slothed it up a bit. Just like the verse above says, we are serving HIM, not our cranky bosses, not our callous teachers, and not society. When we start believing that everything we do is a reflection of God, it becomes easier to put aside our cranky attitudes in order to serve Him. Being hard workers in every aspect of our lives can really help to point other people to Christ. There are definitely still many days where I want to passive aggressively give a Canasian the wrong size just because they’re annoying me, but then I remember that my work is a reflection of me, which becomes a reflection of God.  So the next time you are debating cutting a corner during the day just remember that God has always given us His best without fail, don’t you believe He deserves the same?

 

Pride: I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up

Is there really anything better than that feeling you get when someone tells you that you’ve done a great job or that you’re gifted in some way, or the feeling in the pit of your stomach when someone picks you first for their team or suggests you for a job? These are great ways to feed our pride, but (please tell me you can relate) pride can quickly become a monster of its own.

As I have mentioned many times before, I am about to start my junior year at a small Christian college. It’s a college that has many great qualities and has done a lot for growing my faith, but it is also pretty common to get judgment stares when you go to brunch on Sunday and you look like you haven’t come from a church service. As Christians, nothing excites us quite as much as the opportunity to pass so good healthy judgment. For example, just because someone regularly posts a picture of a Bible and a cup of coffee on Instagram complete with the hastag #blessed doesn’t mean she isn’t struggling with her own issues, and just because someone else has never posted Hillsong United song lyrics on a Sunday morning doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a very real authentic faith.

When my mom attended the same college, there was a group there called Salt Company. It was basically just a Bible study that met on Friday nights at like 8’o’clock. According to her, it was like you weren’t really a Christian if you didn’t attend this prestigious group. “who loved Jesus the “most” was there on Friday’s and you better believe you faced the Grover judgment if you weren’t. This is one of the hardest parts of being a Christian, at least for me. You want the whole world to know how much you love God, but you also don’t want to be self-righteous. You want to be able to witness to people, but you don’t want to be too of the world.

Have you ever met those people who are so nice, kind, and patient no matter what life throws at them? When they are complimented for their hard work instead of thanking you and internally going “yes, I really am the bomb.com,” say “I could be nothing without God”? I always find myself being so frustrated by those people because I can’t relate to them. Sometimes I swear, and sometimes I laugh at dirty jokes’ and sometimes I love myself way more than I should. Now I’m not in any way making fun of those people because they are great gifts, and most of the time I know they are authentic. But after I talk to those people I always feel like, “wow, I’m going to hell”. Or how about when it comes time to share your testimony and the whole group just finished sobbing because Jimmy shared his heart wrenching tale of how he overcame his drug addiction with Jesus. Suddenly it’s your turn. As all the eyes in the room fixate on you, you’re thinking, “crap all I have to follow this up is well I grew up in a Christian home and I gave my life to Jesus on the hill of a candlelit service in 5th grade.”

I think as Christians we can get stuck believing that if we don’t behave a certain way or even throw our faith in everyone’s face that we can’t be used by God. That is not even close to being true. God has a special place to use people who are different than us to reach certain groups of people.  He has also placed you right where you are and with your gifts and talents because He wants YOU to reach someone right where you are.

“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t give you? And if everything you have is from God , why boast as though it were not a gift?” 1 Corinthians 4:7. It can so hard in our own walks with God not to look around in compare ourselves to others. We can quickly become the type of people who gossip/pray about our friends or feel the need to raise our hands at every worship service just to show off.

Something that can really help win over our non-Christian friends and family is when we can honestly admit that we don’t have it all together. My mom was really struggling with her faith when she thought she needed to be a certain type of Christian. She said she really contributes the growth of her faith in college to her friend Ann. She could relate to Ann. It can be so easy when we have already been Christians for a long time to feel like we need to impress each other with all our Biblical knowledge or have a dramatic story in order to make an impact. The truth is God can use our story to reach other people– whether we are the people who came to Christ from a drug addiction or the kid that never missed VBS. We need to be authentic about our faith and be quicker to admit our pride and our flaws. I hope one day to be an impact to my friends the way my mom’s friend Ann was to her, but trust me, every day is a work in progress. So the next time you’re seated at church by the person who is notorious for “Yes Lording” everything the pastor says, just remember that all our faith journeys are different. Let’s not let our pride and judgment have us fall off our paths.

 

So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

Let me ask you a question, what defines you? Is it the clothing of an elite label, hiding behind the mouse of the latest Mac computer, or being first in line to buy Taylor Swift tickets? Do your passions reflect a love for God or the stuff you chose to surround yourself with?

The definition of greed is an intense or selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. Sometimes we are so caught up in trying to outshine each other on social media, with our $600 dollar prom gowns and Jcrew statement necklaces, that we start to be defined by our stuff more than by personalities. Nothing is wrong with taking pride in your appearance or saving up your money to buy something you desire, it is when this need becomes excessive that there is a problem. Suddenly we can find ourselves being consumed with having to have the latest and greatest gadgets that we neglect our Savior.

If you know me well at all you know that I absolutely adore clothing. You also might describe me as little bit of a brand whore. To me who made the shirt matters just as much as what it looks like. I take and inordinate amount of pride in people knowing that “Yes, that shirt did come from Tommy Hilfiger, thank you very much.” But when I truly look inside myself I realize that the only reason I care so much about my appearance is because I care too much about what other people think. Ever been there? It can be easy in today’s culture to think that we have to buy the latest this or have a certain brand of jeans to be cool, but in reality these products are not going to be the things that last forever.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will also be.”- Matthew 6:19-21.

That verse definitely does not beat around the bush.  We are on earth for such a short amount of time and when we die no one is going to remember that we were the first ones at our high schools to have a Michael Kors purse. They are going to remember us by our characters; were we kind? Did we put other people before ourselves? Or were we too busy tweeting everything that happens on our smartphones that we forgot to spend time with those around us?

As hard as it can be, we need to start thinking about eternity and more about how God perceives our actions than our peers. The love and grace of our Savior is the one thing that we can never buy and we never have to earn. He doesn’t care about the type of clothes we wear or that we start our mornings with Shakeolgy. He cares about the intimate details of our lives, like how many hairs we have on our head or how many times we’ve cried because we saw a picture of our friends going out on Instagram and have failed to be invited. He wants to know us even more and use us in bigger ways than we could ever dream or imagine.

But we can’t be used by Him as easily if we find ourselves being too consumed with making sure that all our friends see everything we’ve ever bought on social media. Posting endlessly about the new dress you bought from Lily Pulitzer is definitely not going to shatter anyone’s life, but putting that energy into showing God’s love could.  Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize why exactly we post what we do. Is it to truly share our joy with other people, or is it to make other people feel bad about themselves? So the next time you are stressing out because you don’t have the latest (insert blank here) ask yourself a question. Do I want to be defined as the girl who has a lot of stuff or do I want to be defined as the girl who passionately loves her Savior?

When The Little Green Monster Becomes The Green Giant

When was the last time you went a day without looking at someone else’s life and wanting some aspect of it? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and felt truly comfortable at the reflection staring back at you? We all struggle with envy. In today’s society we are encouraged to embrace our individuality and just be who we want to be, yet we still find ourselves wanting to be somebody else. If you look around, our world is filled with people trying to suppress little green monsters whispering into their ears.  But what if we can never get it to shut up? Only God can help us defeat our jealousy when it threatens to consume our every day lives. To better understand the beast that envy is, I’ve broken it down into three main parts:

  1. Girl Hating On Girl Envy : I go to a very conservative, Christian college in Grove City, PA. Let me tell you I have never found myself surrounded by so many naturally good looking girls, some of who don’t even need a stitch of makeup, in my entire life. I am a girl who can’t even imagine not at least wearing mascara to my 8am, and I find myself seeing these girls who do absolutely nothing with their appearances showing up to class looking like Grecian goddesses. It is so easy in our culture today to compare ourselves to other girls and hate ourselves for not being what our warped idea of beauty is. We are forced to stare at airbrushed magazine spreads and see commercials with women who are covered in makeup, yet we still strive to emulate their “natural” look. There are so many days I get up and my hair won’t fall the way I want it to, I have a huge eye booger that I have to dig out, and I can’t find anything in my spacious closet that I think will impress other people. We forget that we all have those days and that everyone is just as self-conscious as we sometimes are. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”- Psalm 139: 5. We can recite that verse or verses like that until we are blue in the face, but we still have to believe it. God truly did make us look the way we do and to Him we can be nothing short of beautiful. Just because you feel like you are not as skinny as the girl sitting next to you in class does not make you any less the beautiful, authentic creation God made you to be.
  2. Competitive Friendships: This the type of jealousy we are sometimes embarrassed to admit we have. For example, this is being envious when your friend on the track team with you beats you in the race. You are happy for you friend, on the surface, but inside you are jealous and annoyed to not be the one who came out on the top. The same is true when your best friend gets a boyfriend and leaves you to be alone with no one to even watchBridget Jones’s Diary You are so happy for her and you believe she deserves such a great guy, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking but don’t I? Why can’t it be my turn? It can be so hard to learn to be genuinely happy for our friends sometimes and realize that their good fortune is not supposed to make us feel bad. We are called to be the type of friends who love people enough to put our selfishness aside to be truly happy for each other. This is something I definitely still pray about a lot, but God can help give us perspective to put others above our envious tendencies.
  3. Who’s The Best Christian Envy: When we’re such good Christians don’t we just want everyone to know? We all want to be the one who is the best camp counselor, young life leader, and has the deepest prayer when a group circles up to pray. We strive to be the women in our church that little girls look up to. We can find ourselves spending more time being jealous of our friend’s spiritual gifts instead of focusing our time to decoding our own. God has blessed us all with our own individual distinct gifts.“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone is the same God at work.”- 1 Corinthians 12:4. It is important for us to remember that God has purposely given us our gifts for a reason. Sulking at VBS because you were sent to work in crafts instead of teaching the motions for the worship songs does nothing to further His kingdom. Every gift is just as important as the next. We can only be truly happy when our skills are used to glorify Him.

So the next time that the little green monster starts invading your thoughts, ask yourself a simple question: Do you want to be used in an awesome way or do you want to wish your gifts away hoping to be someone else?

 

What To Do When You Eat Too Much Before Dinner: Gluttony

The first of the seven deadly sins I chose to tackle is one that many people think has been wiped from existence, gluttony.  In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters he says, “One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience to this subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled by it throughout the whole breadth of England.” Gluttony by definition is the sin of over-consumption of either food, drink, or wealth. It was originally taught by the church as eating more than one should and not giving properly to the poor. However, in our culture today it can look a lot different than sneaking the extra slice of pie.

I have broken down gluttony into what I like to think are 3 main parts:

  1. Overindulgence: This is not the same as it was hundreds of years ago. Nowadays it is not seen as a sin to eat a snack before dinner. However, it can be eating the last bit of chips when you’re not hungry so your brother has none to pack in his lunch. Or it can be as serious as getting super drunk every weekend or even every so often. Overindulgence can even show up in things we consider good and healthy, like going to the gym every day. This is a great thing. However, it becomes a problem when we are consumed with working out, or with eating healthy. When we get to the point that we can’t skip a day of working out or can’t enjoy the occasional cookie or 8. Everything needs to have moderation.
  2. All-I-Want-Mindset: This is the type of gluttony that is mentioned inThe Screwtape Letters, “ The woman is in what I call an “All-I-want” state of mind. She is an absolute terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning away what has been offered to her with a demure little smile.  She never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.” We live in a generation that is the era of customization and of making everything able to fit everyone’s smallest needs. This is raising a generation of people to not be able to handle not getting what they want. An example of this could be getting upset at your mom because she won’t let you get your dream formal dress because it doesn’t come with a dream price tag. You might pout for days and never think about how hard your mother had to work for that money, what else it could be going towards, or how it might break her heart that she can’t provide it for you. It can be getting really upset that your sketchy college cafeteria suddenly got rid of your beloved flavored water for a week. Now, they still had water, milk, a variety of teas, juices, and sodas but I’m pretty sure I told half my friends how ticked I was to have to drink “regular” water. I didn’t stop to think how lucky I am to have acceptable drinking water at my disposal, or about how the college might be using the funding that came from my flavored water to give to scholarships or to build new buildings that would benefit the campus. We are so blessed that sometimes we take things for granted.
  1. Cultural gluttony: This can be as normal and awesome as spending all day in a Netflix coma while you binge yourself to death on Grey’s Anatomy. While you keep hitting the “Yes!! I’m still watching” button,  you curse your mother and ignore the checklist of things to do she left you, forget to pray for your friend who just texted you telling you she is struggling, and yell at your dog to stop her feeble attempts to try to get you to pet her. All because YOU wanted to spend time watching Netflix. Can’t you relate? I know I can. Gluttony at its core cannot be disguised as anything but selfishness. Another example could be spending too much of your time being a slave to certain social medias. Being consumed with how many likes  your last picture on Instagram got or how funny your next tweet can be to get a ton of favorites, I’ve been there.  I still offer my tweet suggestions to my mom or roommate before I post them just to make sure they’re as funny as I think. It can even be our drive to have the most expensive this or that so we can brag to our friends. When we find ourselves thinking too much about how many likes to get on Facebook or how we can one-up our friends on social media and the world, we stop thinking about what God wants. We stop thinking about how our worth can only come from Him alone. We forget that our worldly possessions and all the likes and favorites we ever get won’t earn us any brownie points for furthering His kingdom.

These sins might disguise themselves as not seeming like a very big deal, but just like a scab you can’t stop picking at, they have a funny way of becoming an infection right under our noses. Ways to fight off gluttony can be praying to God to give you wisdom to weed out areas of your life where you are idolizing things over Him or other people. Pray to be less selfish (this is something I should do hourly) but pray that you can try your best to put other people above yourself. It’s time to curb our diets from the worldly things we all like to overindulge in. Are you up for the task?

Are You Lusting After Mr. Right??

When we think of the word lust a lot of bad images come to mind. We think of boys hiding behind screens of pornography, that girl from your high school that always winded up in the backseat of a boys’ car, and all of the boys our gazes have lingered on longer than is polite. However, though that type of lust is very real and evident in our culture today, that is not that same lust I am going to be discussing as among one of the seven deadly sins. There is a different lust that can affect even the most confident of girls and that is what I would like to call the “perfect man lust.”

Remember when you were in junior high or frankly your freshman year of college and you sat around with your girlfriends and talked about all the traits that you wanted in your future spouse. When you were younger you said things like great hair, good smile, has abs. And as you got older you might have said things like hardworking, funny, smart, and even godly. While this isn’t inherently bad, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, this practice can fill our minds with things that we think we need to have. It can make us start to idolize these qualities and overall idolize our idea of what relationships are.

We live in a world that is glorified by Nicholas Sparks romance novels, Say Yes To The Dress episodes, and the idea that if we can just find love our life will start to have meaning. We start to be brainwashed into thinking that our life is meaningless without a husband that fits all the checks on our lists. While marriage is a great and healthy desire, it can become problematic when we start lusting after the idea of having that perfect relationship more than we lust after our Creator . It can be far too easy to fill the void in our hearts with a cute boy who says all the right things. But once the excitement of a new relationship has faded, we might find ourselves still wondering what is missing.

Though I have never been in a relationship myself, I do realize that I have spent most of my adolescent life lusting after having a boyfriend or rather the idea of a boyfriend. I spent so many years feeling sorry for myself because I thought that not having a boyfriend meant there was something wrong with me. I would find myself getting frustrated with these boys I liked because they weren’t living up to my unrealistic standards. We as a culture have taught our teenage girls that if a boy doesn’t consider them to be worthy, they aren’t. That if they don’t have boys lusting after them constantly they are not worthy of being pursued. That is such a false statement. God is constantly in pursuit of our hearts. He is the one person that no matter how many times we’ve stained our pillow cases with tears of boys who don’t deserve our hearts and forgotten about Him, has still been there redirecting our gaze.

“Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it- Proverbs 4:23.”

Our hearts are more fragile than we realize. If we don’t take precaution to protect them we are going to have nothing to give to God. We need to be careful what exactly we do lust after because it can start to define us. I look back on all the boys I’ve liked and all the mistakes I’ve made and realize that even when I’ve been so mad at God for not giving me what I thought I wanted, He was protecting me from myself.

One of my biggest frustrations with girls today is that one of the biggest compliments has become, “Any boy would be so lucky to have you.” I’ve stopped telling my girlfriends this. Simply because we were created and destined to be so much more than someone’s Instagram Woman Crush Wednesday or even someone’s wife. Not that there isn’t pride in that; but God has plans for us, big plans when He can use us both with a man and without one. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not one of those girls that isn’t actively asking God to prepare me to be a wife and mother if he calls me to that, but I also want to work on desiring Him and growing to be a better person for my friends and family as well.

I want to get to the point where I won’t feel a twinge of sadness  every time I watch a rom com because I envision myself as the heroine and I don’t have the handsome hero to match it. Because we are already the heroines of the greatest story ever written. The story where God loved us so much He died for us and has been cradling our hearts in His hand ever since. So the next time you are watching SYTD with your mom and you start lusting after having that perfect wedding and the perfect guy to match, remember this quote,

 “Until Jesus Christ is the obsession of your heart, you’ll always be looking to mere men to meet the needs only He can fill. Only when you make Jesus Christ your first love, will you be ready for a love story that reflects His glory.”