I was given the privilege of a few minutes with a man God has made into a great man of the faith. Mitch Pearson lost his wife to cancer just a few months ago; God is sustaining and helping him. God is his hope. I am greatly encouraged when I see men standing on the promises of God.
He shared some of the bad advice he’s been given by well-meaning people. Having experienced both cancer and disability in my family, some of it was familiar, such as people granting us a license to sin in bitterness or anger or selfishness or immorality because of the circumstances we live with.
Paul would have none of that. And he knew more than a little about suffering.
Yet he wrote boldly to the Colossians in how they should behave toward their sin and toward each other:
3 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:3-11
Yes, disability is hard. Yes, people don’t “get it” and say or do foolish, hurtful things. Everywhere I look – church, home, school, work – something could be improved or people could behave better or . . . . .
Paul’s response: all of this is true. Now, kill your own sin. Put away your anger and malice toward others. Stop your grumbling. And bear with one another.
My response: that’s impossible.
Paul’s reply: of course it is impossible.
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8
But with Christ, all things are possible:
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:9-10
And we do not fight in our own wisdom or strength or ability. We are God’s!
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17
Malice is my particular temptation out of that list above. My antenna are acutely tuned to any sort of bad behavior against my boy on the part of others; I’m ready to assign bad motives immediately. And I’ll nurse that malice, quietly feeding it while harboring murderous thoughts. And that doesn’t make much of Christ, even if I ‘deserve’ better. Which, of course, I don’t.
Ironically, when I ask God for help in killing my sin, I become a better advocate for my son and for changes I hope God would provide in the situations and institutions around me.
Thank you, Mitch, for standing on promises of God above your hard circumstances. Thank you for encouraging me to kill my own sin.