Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pogo Possum Correctly Identified the Enemy

Pogo Possum says We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

It ain’t my fault.
It wasn’t me.
He did it.
She did it.
The devil made me do it.
Are you sure it even happened?
Who cares?

There are many people, though I am sure none of us, who have used those excuses many imes. They will probably use them again. For those who have used those excuses, or more creative excuses, there are a few things to consider.

First, excuses are important. They give the feeling of being excused from wrong doing. Now, an explanation of events might be helpful, but it never really excuses wrong actions. For instance, ‘He made me so mad I knocked his block off’ explains why someone got his lights
punched out, but it doesn’t excuse the action.

Second, excuses help us to avoid dealing with the real problem. It may be that some circumstances are totally and completely beyond our control. There are people who do have an obnoxious factor that goes beyond explanation. There are others who are so deceitful and dishonest that genuine physical illness is brought on by being in the same room with them. Or, nausea is brought on by the mere thought of having to spend another minute with such a truly awful person. There are people like that. No escape is possible. And, the normal reaction is to
do the best we can to avoid them. That is often our excuse for doing something that we really shouldn’t do. We take the actions of the obnoxious, the liars, the trouble makers, the cheaters,
the pot stirrers, and use their actions as an excuse for wrong behavior on our parts.

When my husband had his auto repair shop a lot of the same customers came through year after year. They would usually chat a bit while waiting on a minor repair, or while waiting for a ride if dropping their car off for a bigger repair. So, I knew a little about their lives. One of the
most distressing things was to watch a marriage break up. It usually began with one spouse cheating on the other spouse. For a few years there would be a nice married couple. Then the next time one of them came into the shop it was obvious that something had changed. My personal observation is that men tend to lose weight when the marriage breaks up. Women
tend to gain weight and become very sloppy in their dress and general appearance. The injured party would come in barely functioning, and clearly devastated. Then they would be back in the shop a few months later looking much better and blabbing about their new love interest. Very
often they were already living with whoever they had picked up at the beer joint they had been frequenting. They used the infidelity of their spouse as an excuse for living in sin themselves.

That is an obvious and all too common example of someone using the sin of another person as an excuse for sinning himself/herself. Two wrongs do not make a right. Adultery by one spouse doesn’t give the other spouse a free pass on committing adultery. However, the same rules apply to smaller things. For instance, just because someone cuts in line at the grocery store, no one has an excuse to use bad language, throw a fit, or do anything that is not a good example of Christian behavior. There is an evil nature dwelling in even the saved that pushes Christians
to respond to wrong behavior with more wrong behavior. That really stinks, but that is really true. We can see that a big sin doesn’t give the Christian the right to sin in a like manner. It is the little sins that give the problem.

Little sins are like the little foxes. They seem so harmless, even cute. But they are really little cancers that grow into big cancers. By the way, foxes are beguiling creatures. They are beautiful, graceful, problem solvers, adorable beggars, and just a pleasure to watch. Then,
you turn your back and the foxes sneak into the chicken house and kill ten of your cutest Silver Sea-Bright Bantam chickens just for the fun of it. They only eat the heads; they don’t even eat the whole chicken! The little foxes are definitely big problems. The little sins in our lives
are definitely big problems as well. And, while the actions of other people might explain our annoyance with them, it does not give us an excuse to jump on the sin bandwagon ourselves! It doesn’t matter whether the sins are big or little. We have no excuse to sin because of the sins
of others. It doesn’t matter if it is a big sin or a little sin.

So, how do we escape our natural tendency to return evil for evil?
I think a major first step is to acknowledge our own sin as sin without making excuses for it. ittle sins are a giant enemy. We can take the words of the little swamp critter cartoon character Pogo Possum to heart. Pogo says, ‘We have met the enemy, he is us.’ The individual is really the only one who can deal with the enemy within each of us.
And
We cannot defeat the enemy within without help from God.

I know that Psalm 44 is speaking of a physical battle, but it can also be applies to a spiritual battle within.

4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
There is no deliverance from any sin without help from God.

5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. The pre-disposition to react to sin with sin is the enemy within.
It is really only by the power of God that the pre-disposition to sin can be defeated. No matter how small the matter or the incident, we do not have an excuse to do wrong even on a very small scale.

6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. When fighting the enemy within, there isn’t a great likelihood of attacking ourselves with a bow or a sword. Good intention is the weapon of choice. That brings to mind the old adage that the road to hell is paved with
good intentions. Human beings, in and of ourselves, have no power to defeat our sin nature. But don’t worry. Verse seven provides hope for success.

thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. It is the Lord who will save us from ourselves. First He saves the souls of repentant sinners. Then He saves those who ask from their own sin nature. It is different from salvation. Eternal security of the believer is not in question. Living a life that is consistently follows the patterns
and boundaries set down for us in the Bible is where the struggle comes in. Yet, thank God, praise God, blessed be God, He will save us from the enemy within – our own sin nature. Psalm 44:8
I
8In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. Our God is worthy of our trust. He is a very present help in trouble. Our successes are through Him.

7 But As Pogo says, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’
The good news is that saved people have also met God Almighty, who is fully able to deliver us from ourselves and from the enemy from within.

Christians often fail to resist ‘big sins’ because we have failed to take seriously the little sins in our lives. We allow someone else’s sins to cause us to sin. It does not honor Christ to act this
way. Our thoughts should be, ‘How do I please God in this situation?’ We can never gauge our own righteousness by comparison to another’s righteousness. The ‘I’m not as bad as Brother
A. or Sister B., so I must be doing ok,’ is never the right way to determine how we are doing in pleasing God. If we must judge ourselves, judge according to the perfect example given to us by
Jesus Christ. It shouldn’t be, ‘I’m not as bad as he/she is’. Instead it should be, ‘I am not even close to perfect as Christ is perfect.’ Remember 2 Corinthians 10:12 which says:
‘For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.’

When a Christian begins to draw near to God with their heart, what other people are doing ceases to be the catalyst for determining personal actions. The goal stops being, ‘doing better than the worst in the congregation; to ‘I want to be more like Christ’. Our ‘little sins’ are
suddenly seen as huge, because they separate us from God.

Remember those little foxes who seem harmless enough, but grow into varmints capable of wiping out an entire’ year of chicken farming in a single night. Take sin seriously.

Barbara

Dear Readers.,

As many of you know I often put a hymn at the end of an article. I also like to have a song for the week or even the month. It is partly because I tend to get a song stuck in my head, and it seems to play over and over. I bet you do the same thing. That is why it is so important that our music be godly music, music that glorifies God and helps us keep our feet on the narrow way. The song I am thinking of today is ‘He Leadeth Me’. I thought I would post the history of the song as well. It is very interesting. I believe this is the only song Gilmore wrote. Here is the story of why it was written. Be sure to read the second paragraph – twice at least..

Joseph A. Gilmore –
Born: April 29, 1834, Boston, Massachusetts.
Died: July 23, 1918, Rochester, New York

This is what he said about writing ‘He Leadeth Me’.

As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological institution, I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church inPhilPhiladelphia [Pennsylvania]. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before
on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words “He Leadeth Me.”
Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.

It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact—that is, I don’t think I did—but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in
human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or
whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is leading us.

At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same
time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston, where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester [New York] to
preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn,

“He Leadeth Me.”
http://nethymnal.org/htm/h/l/hleademe.htm

He leadeth me, O bless├Ęd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Refrain

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,

Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Refrain

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

Refrain

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Refrain