Invidia


“Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen” – BCP

Invidia is the Latin word for envy. It is immediately obvious that this is connected to an uncontrollable desire of the flesh. This may look like greed and gluttony, but it is more specifically oriented around unthankfulness.

The basis of this is not trusting in God’s provision and plan. It is an easy sin, because we naturally like to think that we can supply all of our needs. The problems here are that we do not always recognize needs properly and we are often powerless to gain them.

The way of Christ demands trust. No one can carry their cross without having hope that God will provide life in the midst of a deadly situation. Such a faith is profound and highly exercised in loyal trust to a faithful God. And what’s more, if God was willing to provide for His Son, who became human, in His moment of crucifixion, then He will surely provide for those who also voluntarily walk the path of the Lord.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor

and gave him the name above all other names… – Philippians 2:9

What is your envy? Is there something that you are scared that you cannot live without? Or do you think people will think less of you if you do not have it? Are any of these things what you really need? Are you willing to see your need for taking up the cross and following Jesus? Are you willing to trust God to provide for that sort of journey?

Ira


“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” – BCP

Ira is Latin for Wrath. One might say this is for the person who is always angry or picking fights. We have many of those in this culture. I grew up in Southern USA, who are stereotyped as a people who are easily angered at someone saying the wrong thing. This is not completely devoid of truth. In the Bible we see the same thing being mentioned in Ephesians 4:26.

Let’s not get too confused here. We must remember that the traditional view of wrath as a deadly sin is more connected to destructive personality. The person who is oppressed or physically injured or has seen this done to someone else has every right to be angry since this is an anger derived from a desire for justice. The anger we are discussing is one that provokes all sorts of destructive circumstances.

What we must be cautious of are violent endeavors and always starting fights. In other words, bloodshed and bullying are to be avoided at all costs. The reason for this is that the Kingdom came as a harbinger of peace. Jesus is even called the Prince of Peace. He even went to a cross without resisting.

Peace is the will of God for humanity. From the creation it has been the desire. In the end, it will be part of our reality. In the present, we must live out this reality as we reflect Christ to everyone. It will not do any good to throw punches and draw blood. We must heal wounds and restore life to the broken and dying.

…he (Jesus) humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. – Philippians 2:8

 

In what ways do you practice wrath? Do you try to hurt others and try to cause trouble in other people’s lives? Are you willing to put that death and go as far as accepting being a victim who will be rescued? Or do you think that you can plan better than God and rescue yourself?

Acedia


“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” – BCP

Acedia is Latin for Sloth. This term is commonly used to refer to someone who is physically lazy. Our culture seems to understand that on a physical level, someone who does not exercise is bound for a bad future. Failure to act in health usually brings someone towards death.

Failure to act is something the Church has noticed also. The Church has taken note of a more devastating slothfulness of the spirit. The person who participates in this sin does not take part in disciplining the spirit and in such lives a life that rejects God. This does not necessarily indicate a view on whether someone can reject God or not. But it is a reflection of what is in a person’s heart.

Spiritual Laziness is more poisonous than many people realize, mostly because it’s effects are not felt until it is too late. Starting lazy spiritual practices are seen as harmless, but they are really a letting down of our guard, which allows evil to reign in our lives.

Living Christ’s mission takes discipline. We cannot take up a cross without a commitment to practice the way of Christ. Who can bring love, forgiveness, and peace if they do not practice these qualities in their own heart.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. – Philippians 2:7

how are you a sloth? What keeps you from taking up your cross in spiritual discipline? Are you willing to commit to practicing the way of Christ and exercising your faith?

Avaritia


“O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” BCP

Avaritia is the Latin word for Avarice or Greed. This concept seems very perceivable in our culture through commentary on government in movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. We are all constantly aware of greed, because it is a sin that is very evident in all people. How many times have we ignored more important matters in order to have more money and things.

What makes Greed so bad is relational trauma. Much like soldiers with PTSD, we can cause long-term effects on us and others by competing on the battlefield of material gain. There is nothing but death there, physical and spiritual. It does not bring life to the participant.

We were not made for this death, because it is final and without hope of a future. There is another death we take part in, one in covenant with God as we join in the death of Christ. But this death is a death of hope. Although it is found in sacrifice, not greed, it experiences the promise of resurrection. It is filled with eternal life, not just in the future, but immediately.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to. – Philippians 2:5-6

What are you desiring more the God’s grace and love? Do you find more happiness in material wealth or relationships that reflect Jesus? Are you willing to make Christ the center of your pursuit of satisfaction and the model for your life?

Gula


“Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen” BCP

Gula is the Latin word for Gluttony. The word usually refers to taking in overly excessive behavior to the point of being wasteful. The common association is with food, but it is not limited to that material alone. It can be any material thing that we attempt to not only control but drown ourselves in order to find pleasure and fulfillment.

This vice can seem good on the surface and might even be called self-actualization. However, it reflects a dark side of our humanity: Greed. This is related to another we will cover later, but it shows how pervasive our fallen nature is. We have the ability to take in such a way that moves past thankfulness without thinking of it and moves right over that cliff into the abyss of destruction.

We can see the effects of gluttony in the current Economic and Ecological devastation in the world and America’s veracious appetite. Credit card debt, mortgage crises, global warming, and even war are evidence of this reality. We want and take so much, but it brings turmoil in nature and relationships.

Christ showed us and calls us to not seek to provide for our lives in a wasteful way but to share with others so that all needs are provided. This not only is an act of surrender to His will. It is an act of trust that he will fulfill us. We must take up our cross and live out this submissive reality.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. – Philippians 2:5

What do you want? Do you use so much of it that it is wasteful? What can you do to practice more sacrificial giving over wasteful hoarding?

Knowing God vs. Knowing Self


This series has been leading to a climax. We are approaching the heart of the problem of replacing intimate knowledge of God with other things. That problem is what some would call the self.

It boils down to who is king of your life.

One way to look at this is by turning to the ten commandments. The setup that is commonly accepted is that the rules start with loving God and then say things about loving your neighbor. We’ll save loving your neighbor for another day, but the notion of loving God fills the entire law. The dichotomy of this law is between choosing God and life or choosing what you think is good for the self and going down into destructive patterns. It is essentially raising your self as an idol over and against God, which goes against the first command.

Martin Luther once said, “…where the heart is rightly disposed toward God and this commandment is observed, all the others follow.” Luther understood that the gate to living well and in holiness was to first focus on honoring God. Without that step, everything else falls apart. We have gone over the things in Christianity that tend to take precedence over God (Doctrine, Blessing, Tradition, Experience, and Reason.) All of them, although great, can give us a high sense of self and tear us away from not putting anything above God. We become the idol we had been working to not become.

Because we all wanted what we didn’t have.

We have all defamed someone’s character.

We have stolen things because we were able.

We’ve given in to deep desires regardless of their effects on others.

We’ve wished that certain people were dead.

We’ve forgotten to give back to the people who have sacrificed for us.

We’ve given up on God’s rejuvenating plan thinking ours was better.

We’ve claimed to be under God’s name without actually submitting to Him.

We’ve placed TV, money, and icons at the center of our culture instead of God and others.

Why? Because we think more highly of the self than we do God. Instead of knowing God by doing His will, we intend to do our own will. Thinking that we can do it better, we forget that we humanity have been down this road before.

And just like the first time, it does not end well.

We can do it better, but only if we lose our selves to gain the plans that God has for us. What is taking the place of God in your life? What are you using to make life better? Are you thinking so highly of yourself that you are actually overriding God’s wishes for you? Do you know God or your self?

What is Valentine’s Day About?


Mark Driscoll posted an evaluation of Valentine’s Day awhile back, commemorating the man who was claimed a Saint by the Catholic Church. He claims that His holiday was ruined by Lupercalia, a Roman pagan holiday which was a lustful holiday filled with debauchery.

There are a couple problems with this view.

1) Although he is right that there were many men named Valentine who were martyred. The one commonly referred to is Valentine of Rome who was martyred in 269 AD. He rightly states that Pope Gelasius established the holiday in 496 also. He is wrong that the holiday romance ideas are simply attributed to Lupercalia. It’s a huge logical jump that leaves out too many reasons for saying that. Despite his good intentions, he is just wrong to say this. If you had been caught celebrating a pagan Roman holiday while the Catholic Church was in power, you would not have fared well.

2) Valentine’s Day was not truly romanticized until Chaucer in the 14th century began his writings and making. Since this is technically in the Medieval period, it is at the far end of that period from the establishment of Valentine’s day. Chaucer could not have been celebrating a pagan ritual 1000 years after the establishment of a holiday by a church that had already dismissed that holiday.

Valentine’s Day carries much romantic character these days. I would say that it does not have to be a bad thing. God made attraction and is supportive of people who decide to marry, pending they stay that way for life and treat it honorably. The person that the Church was originally meant to celebrate is that a Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for going against an order of the Emperor of Rome. The edict was that young men could not marry because that took them away from participating in the military. Valentine responded by continuing to marry Christian couples. What is legend is that he was supposed to be married to a lady and that they exchanged letters until he was executed. Whether fact or fiction, this story shows how Christians should act in respects to romance. Even though marriage will not be a thing in heaven, in this age it is to be a sign of loyalty, compassion, and strength. I know that my wife brings strength to me and I try very hard to bring that to her life as well. The concept of marriage we live out is a human attempt to reflect the trinity and Jesus’ relationship to the Church. We seek to bring purpose and love to the marriage. That should be partially what today is about. First, it is about the Kingdom of God and a great person who died for it. The other point is that romance can be just as much a tool for the Gospel and the Kingdom as anything else.

I hope that you get to celebrate this holiday, whether single or in a relationship. Whatever your status, rest in the God who made romance and treat others, including your romantic interests, as God would treat them. That will truly honor valentines day

Knowing God vs. Knowing Reason


One of the major developments of this era is enlightenment. We have come a long way since the beginning of the movement, but we can see it’s effects in academia and practical living. Nothing has been untouched as far as math, science, politics, and even religion. Everything has an emphasis at some point on knowing and learning. This movement has taught us many things, but it has also given us major misconceptions.

One of the teachers I had in high school was also a Roman Catholic priest. He was teaching on the image of god one day and asked us what was it that made us in the image of God. His opinion was reason and he told us that. As much as I respected him, I disagree with this assessment.

In the old testament the idea of the image of God or any other powerful being was not based on someone inherent ability to reflect God, but on the responsibility to reflect God regardless of any ability. One thing that God is is gracious. The whole plan of salvation and discipleship is based on God’s graces and commands to us. To insert the idea that we reason and that makes us the image of God can lead dangerously into works based grace.

Reason is a good thing. It has helped us to today. Sometimes, though, we can tend to make reason the main go to for value and meaning. Our meaning, however, comes from God and what he has made us to be. Reason is not the main focus; Christ is. Reason has failed us so many times and has led us to self-centered decisions as individuals and as a people. We can’t save ourselves and we can’t become better on our own.

Questions that drive us to the main point: Do you think reason is what makes us great in God’s eyes? Has reason ever failed us? What would life be like if we tried to make our heart more about knowing Christ than knowing information?

Knowing God vs. Knowing Experience


When we enter Christianity, experiencing and emotions are an inescapable reality. One the giants of the Christian faith was a man named John Wesley. In the middle of his life while he was an Anglican minister, his heart was “strangely warmed” by the Spirit of God while listening to Martin Luther’s comments on Romans. The experience was named the Aldersgate experience after the place that Wesley experienced this.

Wesley, however, knew that experience was not the core of the Christian experience. It was a bigger reality founded in Christ. Experience and emotions can lead to devastating affects (just read about Jim Jones or the actions by Westboro Baptist Church). Emotions are unstable things that can lead to euphoria of religiosity, which is a false, shallow understanding of the Faith, or to a dark and fearful relationship, which is not love towards God, but a fear of hell, which gets no one any closer to Heaven.

An instruction on how to deal with overpowering experiences and emotions is in Revelation, where we see the record of a Church that was suffering tribulation under the Empire of Rome and the Jewish people around them. They were a young outcast group subjected to violence or at least barred from participating in society, which would have led to struggles in survival. Throughout the book, they are encouraged to stay strong and not give in. This is despite the experience and emotions connected to a desire to survive, which is a very high level of emotion and desire. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would consider it one of the highest.

The point is that the relationship with God is very important. We are not discussing a simple verbal acknowledgement of relationship, but the type that is defined by love. Love, in the Scriptures looks very different than today. We may see it as a warm, fuzzy feeling when talking about God, but the Bible uses the words which originally were used to describe loyalty. Loyalty has to be a major drive in our love for God. If we give that up, we have lost what it means to be saved and have lost a proper response to the Gospel also.

You should ask yourself a few questions: What drives my faith, participating in something bigger than me or making this about me? Is my love like high school puppy love that is done next semester or more like love of a mighty king and his servants? Am I going to seek the emotions and the spiritual high of good experience or seek to know God who is my Lord?