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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pursuing purity

Watching sports is a hobby of mine.

One of my favorite players to watch in past years, was A.C. Green, who played basketball with the Los Angeles Lakers.

What made A.C. Green unique was that he lived a life of abstinence and purity his entire time in the NBA.

A. C. Green's faith and moral stand has been no secret to his teammates.

"They respected me and were curious about how I [remain abstinent]. They asked me privately or threw questions at me in the locker room."

In Sports Illustrated, columnist Rick Reilly dubbed Green "The NBA Player Who Has Never Scored." Green admits that he's not immune from sexual temptation. But he maintains his integrity with the help of friends in Champions for Christ and others who keep him accountable and focused on his godly commitment.

"They keep me in line so much that I'm sure there have been temptations waiting around the corner that thankfully I've never known about."

As Green told Reilly, "I promised God this, and I'm not going to break it. I love myself and my future wife too much to just waste it."

His actions don't go unnoticed. One season a teammate by the name of Anthony Mason, who had off-court troubles, began to pay attention to Green's spiritual leadership more. In the Miami Herald last January, Mason said, "You would think of Green as a goody-two-shoes, but to see [his convictions] up close, you realize that's the way you're supposed to live."

Green has had the thrill of leading a teammate to Christ, but more often he has helped them work through specific issues in their lives. And, even in retirement, he’s always available to pray.

There is power in personal purity.

Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:22, “Keep yourself pure.”

“Keep yourself.” In other words, it is something that I do. I am to keep myself pure. I am to keep myself clean, uncontaminated, without corruption in the messy world we live in.

What is a pure heart? Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “It is a condition whereby a man’s heart is not ruled by his conscience, but by the revealed will of God.”

I agree with that. For your conscience and my conscience can fall into the trap of cultural and environmental conditions. I’ve heard some say, “I don’t feel it’s wrong. I have a peace about it. My conscience is clear on the matter.” All of that shows the fickle and unreliable qualities of the conscience when left to itself.

The Psalms writes, “How can a young man keep his ways pure?” And then he gives the answer, “by guarding it according to your word.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” To “see” God is to “know God.” To “know” God is to be pure before Him.

Do you desire to know God? I do. Jesus says, “Be pure.” “Paul writes, “Keep yourself pure.”

How can you do that this day?

Confess your sin the day it happens. Don’t wait. Come before God immediately with a heart of repentance.

Confess your sin with a contrite heart. Someone once said, “The plant of purity is always watered with tears of repentance.”

Do everything within your power to live a godly life today.

Stay away from tempting places and people.

Let the Holy Spirit work in you.

You can keep yourself pure today!

Devotional Prayer: Father, I desire to be pure this day. Guard my mind, my heart and my spirit from the temptations of the enemy. Help me to be pure before you. Amen.


Name: Christie said...

One way that we can avoid "falling into the trap of cultural and environmental conditions" is by taking time out to examine ourselves. Taking a hard look at what we allow into our minds and hearts. It's so easy to let things sneak in to our lives...Maybe even just setting some time out once a week/month/etc. and reviewing what we've been watching, saying, dwelling on, and listening too.

Jon said...

A.C. Green has long been a favorite of mine. Though not the marquee player on his team, his leadership was evident in the locker room and on the bench. I believe his strong faith and commitment to living a pure life truly impacted everyone who was involved in his career...and in his life. The best part was that he didn't hide his light under a basket...he was upfront with team members and those who inquired about his faith and his commitment to keeping himself pure for his future wife...who he trusted God to bring him at the right time.

People watch us constantly to see if we are walking what we are talking...even more so, God knows when we fail to do what we say. Now, most of the time, our failures are not monumental and/or intentional...they result from our lack of attention to purity and usually start small. But if we do not "monitor" ourselves, and find others (accountability partners) to assist us, we will fall!

I've learned to keep certain things in certain places to assist me in my quest to remain pure. I try to keep a Bible and a picture of my wife/family near the computer because temptation rolls out from that machine even when doing the most mundane tasks. I try not to be alone too often as Satan really attacks us when we are alone, or lonely, or hurting, or depressed. I always take extra stuff to do on business trips (as I'm usually alone) and try to involve myself with other people of faith on the trip to stay focused on the path. Recently, I had to go to Las Vegas for a week and I truly think that God was protecting me from temptation by allowing me to have a minor injury that required muscle relaxers and pain killers...I probably got more sleep on my own than the majority of others on the trip added together. In this case, my pain was a blessing.

Trust in the Lord. He says that he will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist. Trust in that and run from temptation...God will always provide you a way out. It is our choice to give in to the temptation...I know this is true in my own life as I look back on where I have failed. I can always see there was a point I could have done something else, or God put someone in my path to assist me, but I chose to continue on. Conviction follows, then confession, then forgiveness and grace from God who loves me...but I often ask myself, "How many times can I fail in this?"

God loves us...each and every one...and is willing to forgive us everything. Accept His love and grace today.

Love God (He surely loves you more) and love people (because they surely need it more) with all you have within you.

May God bless and keep you.