Saturday, December 6, 2008

What my cat taught me this morning...

Tasha, the elderly feline that graciously lets us stay at her house reminded me of a biblical lesson this morning. She has lived with us for 14 years, and in that time we have consistently tried to teach her that the kitchen counter is no place for cats. For most of her life, she followed this rule pretty well. She stayed off the counter whenever we were present.

Fourteen months ago, a litter of four kittens came to stay with us too. The young ones did not amuse Tasha, batting at her tail and all. Such indignity! There were a couple scraps, but over the last number of months, they seem to have come to some sort of truce.

However, the impetuous ones have not yet learned the “no prowling zone” of the kitchen tops although we have been as firm and consistent with them as we were with Tasha. Well, Tasha has now decided she can be up there too and has become just as bold in jumping up there right in front of us.

As I was scolding and putting her down this morning, the sobering passage in Ezekiel 18:21-24 came to mind:

“If a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

“But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.”
Those of us who have walked with Jesus for a long time do not get a free pass to sin any more than those who have not. If anything, we have a weightier judgment because we know better. Sometimes the temptation is “just this once won’t hurt.” The problem is it does hurt. We need to be careful to guard against compromise and comparing ourselves with the culture around us. We need to remember there are absolute rules God has set in place independent of what voices around us say. Tasha serves as a counter-example to not follow the example of the young ones and become emboldened to do what we know is wrong. We are in a race. We need to run the distance. We need to focus on the finish line. We need to finish well.

For further meditation

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Galatians 5:7-8
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
No cats were harmed in the writing of this article.