1998-07-31 - Sentencing Ourselves to Prison
We in America are blessed by a lot of freedom. But sometimes we can imprison ourselves. We can build prisons of bitterness, of worry, of perceptions about circumstances, of addiction, of bitterness, of jealousy or other sin, of legalism. God can free us from our self-made prisons, and He desires to. And the prisons in our own minds, which we inflict on ourselves, can be the most restricting of all.
Take a couple of these: Bitterness: When we refuse to forgive someone, who is the one that is hurt the most? Who is the one most likely to lose sleep, whose stomach churns furiously in the presence of that person, who thinks of possibilities of revenge, who stews about it? It's the one who won't let it go.
Or worry: We can lose hours of sleep, elevate our blood pressure and distract ourselves from good things we could be doing - all in worry about something we probably can't change anyway! And I'm sure you've seen the statistic that 90% of what we worry about never even happens!
Some of us feel we are imprisoned or trapped at work. We dread the 40-60 hours a week we work. We feel there is no hope for change, and the thought of decades more of that can be overwhelmingly depressing.
Jealousy can be a cruel prison. Saul is a good example of that.
(1 Sam 18:7-11 NNAS) The women sang as they played, and said, "Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands." 8 Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" 9 Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. 10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand. 11 Saul hurled the spear for he thought, "I will pin David to the wall." But David escaped from his presence twice.
Saul became obsessed with getting rid of David, whom he perceived as an enemy. It imprisoned his mind, took over his life, consumed him. The word "perceived" is key here. We perceive circumstances or events as unbearable, unchangeable. But in Part 2, we will see how God can free us - sometimes He changes circumstances, but even more often He changes us.
Dear Father, please make us aware of our prisons, and help us to escape through the freedom You provide us via Your Son and Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name amen.