SCRIPTURE READING Romans 6:1-5 The Message
6 1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
LEADER The Word of God that is still speaking.
ALL: Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE Quit Doing That Pastor Donna Goltry
What a powerful image (referring to the images from the scripture reading).
- Raised from the waters of baptism, raised into a new life with Jesus, having been washed clean.
- Shedding the skins of the things that held us back like a snake shedding its old skin to put on the fresh one for spring. Or, should we say, shedding our desires for sin? To quit doing whatever it is that we do to harm ourselves and others.
Ah, but we know it is not that simple. Good intentions. But sometimes they go astray. We revert. We keep on doing the same old things we hoped to put behind us.
It’s like looking into that suitcase we packed for the new journey and seeing we weren’t quite strong enough to leave our old nasty baggage behind. Things that were kept in the suitcase that should have been thrown out with the garbage.
Like mistakes we make and keep on making. Sometimes I need a reminder: QUIT DOING THAT!
Last week we thought about making mistakes, and how that affects our lives. I suggested that it’s what you do when you’ve made a mistake, or how you react when you see others have made a mistake, that makes all the difference!
When we give ourselves and others a little more ease in being human, allowing them and us to make mistakes and grow from them; we are embracing grace like God promises for us and acting it out in our own lives.
Call it GRACE. When we give grace to ourselves and those around us for our mistakes.
But THEN comes the harder part. Changing our patterns of behavior. It is WAY harder to break the patterns of sin in our lives. But, it can be done.
Are you more ready to admit your mistakes than to fix them? Willing to say, oops, I made a mistake, but not willing to hear, “quit doing that” from someone who sees you making the same error over and over and wants to help you stop it?
I had bad habits as a teenager. Lots of them (and I’m sure you are thinking, and she still does). But I’ll share one fairly trivial but irritating bad habit I had as a teenager.
Daddy had a tendency to be skeptical of any request I made, his autopilot answer to any question for permission to do something was “NO.” If I begged, he finally would get exasperated and say, “talk to your mother.” But, I crafted an irritating way to divert him so that he was more likely to be caught off-guard and say yes.
Most evenings, he sat in a living room chair, dozing. Probably as a kid, I didn’t realize how hard he worked. Being quite naughty, when I had something I wanted him to say yes to, I’d creep over to his tickle the bottoms of his feet. “QUIT” he would blurt out from his semi-slumber. Having gotten his attention, I’d ask the question before he got a chance to be ready with his standard answer, “NO.” I knew I shouldn’t do this. It was conniving. But I continued to do so until the last time I did it was a very important moment.
Scott and I came in from a date. Scott was steeling himself to have a serious conversation with Daddy about us wanting to get married. You would have thought I’d have the composure, at a big moment like this, to treat it more careful. To gently awaken him from his dozing and start with some small talk, leading to the serious questions. But, no. Over I went and tickled his feet to wake him up.
Fortunately, he though Scott was great, so all worked out. But as for my behavior. Not something to be proud of.
It’s hard to change behaviors. But now let’s shift to errors in our behavior that are more serious. Like letting go of an addiction that is destroying a person’s life.
I’ve known a person unable to break the hold of drugs over her life even when it resulted in her losing custody of her children and going to prison. She talked a good talk. Frequently asking for grace. But when it came to quit doing drugs, she could not. The addiction held power over her above everything else.
And, as an aside, many times these addictions and behaviors are so strong that a person needs help in overcoming them.
- From professionals. From clinics. From medical help.
- Encouragement from their people who support them in the effort to
- Friends who will be present with them when the urge comes to go back to the old ways.
Or look no further than an example in the Bible. King Solomon was obsessed with power. He gathered people around him to ensure he kept his power, including David to soothe his bad temper with soothing music. But nothing could reign in Solomon’s obsession with power, not David, not even God. When Solomon heard God’s call to wait before taking action, he did not, instead taking actions into his own hands. For that failure to wait, God warned him that the kingdom would be torn from him and his family. His impatience, his obsession with power was something he could not quell. He could not quit doing the things that were ruining him. It was his demise.
It’s hard to change. To quit doing whatever the “that” is in a person’s life.
Things we do that demean others.
We need to QUIT DOING THAT. Quit doing those things that harm others and ourselves.
Yet, I’ve known people who did. They lived into their baptismal vows, left behind their old sinful ways. I’ve known an alcoholic that decided never to take a drink again. A drug user that vowed never to use drugs again. My own father gave up smoking that way. One day as he lit a cigarette, he put it out, threw away the pack, and never smoked again.
When the apostle Paul was writing to the Romans and telling them to emerge from baptism as if they are packing their bags for a journey and leaving sin behind, he knew it wasn’t always that simple. The lure of past tempts. So he gave this advice, as good today as when written:
Romans 6:12-14 That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
As I’ve said, breaking free of the tyranny of old bad habits and behaviors is hard. But we do have a model to help us along the way. It is living in love. Regarding each person we meet as a child of God. Keeping our eyes focused on this kind of love rearranges our mindset and priorities. It can put us on the road to a more loving life. And nothing can be better than that.
To quit something that keeps us from loving God, ourselves and one another may be hard, but it is worth it. Surrounding ourselves with others who will help us and following the lifepath of Jesus who loved and helped those he met, what could be more powerful than this in helping us as we seek to QUIT DOING THAT, WHATEVER THE THAT IS YOUR LIFE. Amen.