August 3, 2016: SET YOURSELF UP

~by Louis Templeman

We need to live by the rules we believe in. That is, if we are to like ourselves. If we are to respect ourselves. If we do not get caught breaking these rules of life, we may fool others but we will not fool ourselves. If we constantly fudge on our values, we undermine our self-esteem. We dim our inner-light. Lacking the comfort of self-respect, we look for comfort elsewhere: such as binge eating, over-indulging in alcohol or unhealthy internet distractions or other excesses.

Such choices usually set us up for self-exposure. Self-deceit is rarely satisfied until it surfaces in exposure and shame. It either comes in little repeated, irritating moments or builds up until it manifests in a more public shameful event: “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32: 23).

Confession. Absolution. Heart to heart talks are designed to renew. When King David got off track, he seduced the wife of a faithful brave officer. He tried to hide the deed by deceit. When that did not work, he plotted the murder of the woman’s husband. Not only did the child of this union die, but Nathan, a prophet of Yahweh, confronted him publicly with, “You are the man!”

This led to repentance and the penning of one of his most beautiful Psalms (51). Nevertheless, the lie and seduction, the murder and the death of the child remained a part of his painful memories. There is no more violent cudgel, with which to inflict pain, than such memories.

Had he called for Nathan, or other faithful cohort, rather than calling for Bathsheba, he could have talked through his failing and lustful deceits and remained honorable.

He was a very bright and powerful man, yet he could not suppress his troubled conscience. A moment[LT1] of pleasure and deceit – not playing by the rules he believed in – left him with a lifetime of regret.

God gives us the desire to do right. Living with a clear conscience is a clean and powerful way to live.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior.

This idea was so important in the early church that the Apostle Paul wrote: Reprimand publicly those who do sin, so that the rest also will be afraid” (1 Timothy 5: 20). Public admonition such as this would make for a severe discomfort in our culture. But Paul was interested in righteousness, and in pleasing God. “Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5: 11).

One of Richard Nixon’s political soldiers, Charles Colson, was involved in illegal work for the president. He was publicly shamed and went to prison. His experience led him to change and to solidify his rules for life. His exposure led to confession, repentance and a life of acts of mercy. The prison outreach he started continues, even after his death.

Even if we have to subconsciously plot our own correction, it is the natural desire of the heart to live by the rules we believe in. Pressing against this righteous force sets us up for a difficult life.


[LT1]

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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