Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument
of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those
who have been brought from death to life; and offer every
part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
When we offer something, we think of giving it. Sometimes we do it willingly, other times not so much. It might be something tangible like a soup pot that someone needs because they are cooking for a crowd or it might be something intangible like our hearts to show compassion.
However, we learned yesterday that what's translated as offer in the NIV, actually means yield. So in the case of this verse, we aren't to yield ourselves to sin as an instrument of wickedness. In other words, don't compromise what you know to be true, or what you know you are to do, to be used in an ungodly way that creates a huge mess.
That said, let's start small with our ears and unwelcome roommate number 1, gossip.
It's easy to dismiss gossip that we don't participate in as harmless. And by not participating, I mean we aren't contributing to the conversation with our own opinion. However, the moment we listen to it we: can't unhear it, likely won't forget it, will probably be influenced by it at some point in time, and have now given unspoken permission to the person who said it to dish it out to us again in the future. By not shutting it down to start, we are offering a part of us to something that isn't God's best for us.
Granted you can't always predict (or plug your ears fast enough) to prevent it from coming your way. But in love, with preparation, we can shut it down.
Do you know ________________________? Yes! I have always thought he/she was a great person. What about him/her?
Did you hear about ______________________? No! I hope everything is okay. They have always been a good friend to me.
What do you think of ______________________? Honestly, I haven't thought much about it, but sometimes change/unexpected circumstances/etc in my life have brought the biggest blessings.
If we shut it down before it starts, we protect our ears and hearts, the person or circumstances we don't have all the information about, and whomever is speaking by gently redirecting their thoughts or perceptions with something they might not have considered.
Is this easy? No. And it's hardest when we have an opinion or honestly feel the same way we are anticipating the other person is going to speak. But we have a choice to make: yield to sin or yield to righteousness.
I wish there was a way to make us so sensitive to what we hear that shutting down the negative was automatic. But even Paul warns Timothy that people will gather others to hear what their itching ears want to hear and turn their ears away from the truth and instead turn to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) And while he is specifically speaking of the refusal to accept sound doctrine in place of what allows them to continue with their current practices, this can be applied to gossip if we are yearning to have justification of our feelings about a person or situation and one is coming our way.
The best description of gossip I have ever heard came from Michelle Myers where she said that it is the exact opposite of how Jesus talks to God about us. Romans 8:34 asks: Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died -more than that, who was raised to life- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus doesn't whisper in God's ear about what we've done or why we deserve some earthly karma, instead he brags about how he died for us and asks for help on our behalf. And truly, if we honestly feel a need to express our thoughts on a person or subject, the best ears we can take it to are the ones who can realign our hearts and let our ears hear the truth.
Father, it's never easy to hear the reality of how we submit to things we shouldn't because we want to be accepted and included. But the only acceptance and inclusion that should matter to us are the ones that come from you. Give us the wisdom to anticipate what we might be on the verge of hearing, the ability to redirect it before we participate, and the desire to have our ears filled with your truth and fill the ears of others with it, too. We know that we won't get this right all the time and that there will be times that we dive headlong into it, but we know that with your help we can be transformed into instruments of righteousness.