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When fixing a problem involves pain, sometimes we postpone fixing it. Not many people enjoy a visit to the dentist, for example, and that's why many people will tolerate a toothache longer than they should. But if we would elevate our perspective a bit and take a longer range view of things, it would be obvious that it is almost always easier to fix problems than to live with the consequences of not fixing them. Certainly that is so with regard to the problem of sin.
God wants to repair the damage sin has done to our character, and the repair often involves some pain at the hands of the Great Physician, at least in the short term. Among other things, there is God's chastening, the discomfort of breaking old habits, the continuing pain of the consequences of sins committed in the past, and perhaps even persecution because we are trying to do what is right. These and many other things may make it look like staying in sin would be easier. But that would be a foolish, nearsighted view. The truth is, even in the here and now, "the way of transgressors is hard" (Prov. 13:15 KJV). And eternally, of course, hell will be considerably more difficult than any discomfort we might have had to endure in going to heaven. Wherever sin is involved, what seems easy right now will turn out to be the hardest way of all.
The good things in life usually come with a price, and salvation from sin is no different. Because of the price, many people turn away. Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Mt. 7:13,14).
God sometimes asks us to do things that are outside of our "comfort zone." He never promised that doing His will would be easy, but He did promise it would be worth it. Throughout this week, let's meditate on the fact that it is wise to accept whatever hardships our salvation may require. And in our acceptance of these things, may we not have a grudging or complaining spirit. Instead, let's understand that it is a privilege to be delivered from our sins. Whatever difficulties may be involved, those are a small price to pay for the freedom and joy that await us at the end of the journey. Our afflictions are nothing more than "light momentary affliction" (2 Cor. 4:17).
Monday: Exodus 5:20,21; 6:9
Key Idea: The people of Israel resisted being rescued from their Egyptian bondage.
Questions for Family Growth: Back in Exo. 4:1, what problem had Moses anticipated? Why might Israel have been reluctant to leave Egypt? What should have been Moses' attitude about Israel's resistance to be rescued?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:4.
Tuesday: Hebrews 3:16-4:13
Key Idea: Israel's bondage in Egypt represents our servitude to sin.
Questions for Family Growth: In what ways does Israel's journey to Canaan parallel our journey to heaven? What can we learn from Israel's mistakes at the start and then as the journey progressed? How can we keep our hearts and minds focused on the "Promised Land"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:5.
Wednesday: Matthew 7:13,14
Key Idea: Being delivered from sin involves difficulty.
Questions for Family Growth: In what ways might salvation from sin prove to be difficult? What does it mean to "count the cost" of following Christ? What did Jesus say in Lk. 14:25-33? What are some of the costs of following Christ? What about the costs of not following Him?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:6.
Thursday: Exodus 14:10-12
Key Idea: If we're not thinking clearly, we may insist on being let alone in sin.
Questions for Family Growth: Why did the people of Israel become afraid, and what did they say to Moses in v.12? What is the application of this passage to us today? What are some situations in which we might say, "Leave us alone"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:7.
Friday: 1 Peter 4:16-19
Key Idea: Deliverance from sin is worth whatever difficulty it may require.
Questions for Family Growth: What do we mean when we say, "The Lord never promised that following Him would be easy; He only promised it would be worth it"? In practical terms, how do we "commit" or "entrust" ourselves to God?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 15:8,9.