Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are You Experiencing A Slow Fade In Your Spiritual Life?

Photo by stumayhew
It's A Slow Fade

Did you ever see the movie "Fireproof" from a few years ago? If so, you might recall the main song by the group Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade" that quickly became a hit around the movie's release. The lyrics to the chorus are:

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray 
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

I recently read through the Old Testament books of Joshua and Judges. As I read through these two books, the lyrics to this song kept popping into my brain. When we see the Israelites in Joshua chapter 1, I think they had to have been filled with so much hope for a bright future. They were finally on the doorstep of entering the Promised Land! Joshua had just assumed the reigns of leadership from his mentor Moses, and God encouraged him and all of Israel to enter the land and take possession of it.

And the nation did take over the land! The invasion and conquest of Canaan wasn't always clean, pretty, or perfect, but Israel eventually took control of the majority of the land. For the most part, the people were being obedient to God and His commands. The book of Joshua ends with this statement: "Israel worshiped Yahweh throughout Joshua's lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works Yahweh had done for Israel" (Joshua 24:31).

As we move into the book of Judges, though, we see the slow fade begin.

The Pinnacle Point Of The Fade

The various tribes of the nation of Israel begin making really poor choices. A little disobedience here and there, plus a failure to do everything God had commanded them to do in taking over Canaan, eventually leads to a pattern of sin and judgment by God. In Judges 17:6, we read "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he wanted." This was the sad truth of how far the young nation had declined.

In Judges 19-21, we reach the pinnacle point of Israel's sin and disobedience. We read the story of a Levite and his concubine who travel to the town of Gibeah, within the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. It's a long story, but in this town we have some perverted men who try to have homosexual relations with the Levite, and then end up raping, abusing, and killing his concubine. As a result of the death of his concubine, the Levite dismembers the corpse of his concubine into 12 pieces and sends those pieces to the 12 tribes of Israel. This act leads to a meeting of Israel's elders to discuss how to deal with the tribe of Benjamin, and then civil war breaks out with the 11 tribes fighting against the tribe of Benjamin. Almost all the men in the tribe of Benjamin are killed off as a result.

Be On Guard Against The Fade

This incredibly crazy, complicated story at the end of Judges is not the point, though, to this post. The point is that over the course of a few hundred years, the nation of Israel went into spiritual decline. It was a slow fade, but at the end of this spiritual fade, there was a pretty dramatic, sinful destruction, almost causing the complete annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin.

Everyday, we need to be on guard in our spiritual walk with God. If we give Satan even just a little wiggle room to get his foot in the door in a certain area of our spiritual lives, he's going to exploit that weakness and take over. A slow fade for us spiritually will lead to massive destruction over time, just like the nation of Israel. "Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith…" (I Peter 5:8-9a).

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