It is that special time of year when the dusky summer nights light up with fireflies here in Pennsylvania. My grandkids have been having a wonderful time running through the green grass, arms stretched out as they try to catch them.
The other night one of them asked if we could get a jar. After poking holes in the lid, this became our residence for the unfortunate lightning bugs caught by the little hands. The jar soon became full of little bugs with golden light shining forth from each one every few seconds.
Somehow the effect of the creeping bugs lighting up in the jar wasn’t nearly so enchanting as the fireflies flying freely in the yard and surrounding fields, lighting up the night.
I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately. Oh, not the sin that we Christians gladly call sin and have no problem staying away from. I’m talking about the sins that we’ve come to accept as just part of us, rather than sins against God that need to be eradicated from our lives.
Things like self-indulgence, anxiety, grudges, anger, pride, gluttony, selfishness, fear, self-gratification, wasting time, ungodly entertainment, laziness, arrogance. The list goes on. We have deceived ourselves in believing these aren’t as big as those “other sins”. Or maybe that they aren’t sins at all.
But they are sin. And they do come with consequences.
These sins, loved and cherished by us, keep us imprisoned in ineffectiveness, severely dimming our lights for Christ.
Like the fireflies, we are in a jar. But it is of our own making. We bleakly shine our weak light, but few can see because they struggle to see beyond the sin that is so obvious to them and so accepted by us.
We all struggle. We all battle. But we can’t—we won’t—fight until we actually recognize that it IS sin. And that’s the key, isn’t it?
I am right there with you. I struggle with many things on that list and I am beginning to understand the offense they are to a Holy God. Our flesh wants to excuse them but if we want to walk in victory, we can’t make excuses. There is no place for rationalization of sin in the life of a vibrant Christian.
When I opened the front door this morning to let out my dogs, the jar was on the porch. Inside was one lone firefly. Apparently, when we took the lid off for a few minutes to return freedom to the little insects, this one missed the window of opportunity. We put the lid back on and put it on the porch for another night, never noticing the little bug still imprisoned in the jar.
I can’t help but think of how many of us are like that little bug. We have been caught and placed in the jar through our own lusts. We are imprisoned there without hope. But God opened the lid of the jar, through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. He provided us a way to freedom. He provided us a way to shine His light before the world.
And, yet, so many of us keep going back into the jar. We get ensnared by these sins that we don’t like to call sins and back into the jar we go.
If we are a believer, the lid of the jar is open. Why are we staying in the jar? Why are we not confessing our sin and battling our flesh, in order to live in victory?
I believe it’s because we’ve been deceived into believing we must live in the jar. That there is nothing wrong with the jar and we can’t expect a better place to live in this fallen world than the jar.
But I’m beginning to understand that this just isn’t true. We Christians don’t need to live in a jar imprisoned by fear and anxiety. Or grudges and unforgiveness. We don’t need to be imprisoned by our lust for material goods, ungodly entertainment, or food. We can be free of the pride that keeps us from living a Christian life filled with joy and peace.
God has removed the lid and we are free to live in victory. But the first step is humbly admitting it is actually sin.
I am reminded of these verses in Galatians—
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25
Have I crucified my flesh with its passions and desires?
While this seems like an absurd way to obtain freedom, it is actually the only way we can find the freedom we long for so desperately.
Will you join me in asking the Lord to show us how we aren’t pleasing Him? Shall we pray that He will help us to admit that our dearly held sin(s) must be admitted and then eradicated? Shall we fly out of the jar and be on our way to freedom, where we can make the most impact for Christ and shine brightest?