A woman wrote to me concerned about her enjoyment of fine clothes. It wasn’t that she spent a lot of money on the clothing, but that she really liked to study the different designers and read books and magazines on beautiful clothes. Someone had told her that this was sinful and she should get rid of all her magazines and books and stop this fascination. She wavered between wanting to keep her hobby and feeling guilty for not giving it up.
Here’s my response:
Sometimes the reason a thing is difficult to give up is because the wrong person is asking. Your heart knows that God is not asking you to give up your interests, but you hear someone suggesting that you should. Who is that? I am convinced that the evil one uses legalistic teachings to bind God’s people so that they cannot enjoy a relationship with the Lord.
There are things in our lives that are not sin. Some people need to remember that. Reading novels, watching decent TV, enjoying non-Christian friends or family—these are not wrong things. Yet some teachers try to convince us that they are bad. These guys have long lists to which they add almost anything they don’t like, but the things on their lists aren’t declared to be sin in the Bible. If God doesn’t call it sin, neither should we.
So how should you deal with these things that are not clearly sinful? Make it simple. Tell the Lord that if He wants you to get rid of something, you invite Him just to take it away. He has ways of removing things from our lives. Ask Him to remove anything He doesn’t want in your life. Trust Him to do that. If He does, you will know that it was what He wanted. If He doesn’t remove something, then you know that He wasn’t asking you to do it.
You see, I believe that God does His work. We set ourselves up for failure when we think we have to do things. The harder something is for us, no matter who is asking, the more we feel guilty and ashamed. But what if God is not asking? Suppose God told you to step aside while He destroyed the things you have enjoyed. If He told you, and you knew it was Him, you would do it willingly. Maybe not joyfully, but willingly, because you trust Him. That’s all He asks, that you trust His love for you.
Our faith is in a Person. We can never trust in standards or actions or performance. We trust in Jesus alone. If Jesus doesn’t save us, then we will not be saved. If Jesus in us is not enough to please God, then God will never be pleased with us. It’s all about Jesus or none of it matters. The goal of the Christian life is not to try to please God, nor to deserve His gifts. The goal of the Christian life is to know Him. Spend your time just basking in the love of Jesus. Talk with Him. Bounce ideas off Him. Trust that He wants to lead you and communicate with you and then listen. He will speak to you through your heart, if you belong to Him.