Our propensity for vanity and disregard

2 Samuel 24, Hosea 4:1-11
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We all have two faces at times.  But do we have to let the worse one win?
We all have two faces at times. But do we have to let the worse one win?

When I head over to the studio to begin guitar lessons, I always consider how I look in front of my students and parents.  And I should.  Presenting yourself in a professional manner in your respective industry is appropriate and should never be taken lightly.

But when no one is around, I’m pretty lax about how I dress.  If I’m not going anywhere significant, I’m in a t-shirt and hoodie, and I might have done something with my hair, but probably not. Some people might argue that this is foolish, especially those in reputation-based fields.

But the truth is, when “no one is around,” your behavior changes dramatically.  No longer are you concerned with getting that girl’s attention or projecting yourself as someone to take seriously.  Dang it, I’ll eat breakfast in my underwear if I feel like it, and I’m only going to dance like no one is watching when no one is actually watching.

Unless you’re a sharpshooter obedient Christian, which I’ve only known on a superficial level but never met, your conscious thoughts are not always on God.  Sure, you Facebook feed might be consumed with Christian adages and you attend church more faithfully than work or classes, but c’mon — seriously — you forget God is around sometimes, don’t you?

Worse, sometimes you know God is “around”, but you do stuff you shouldn’t do anyway.  I spent some time looking up old elementary/middle school crushes on Facebook recently. I told my wife about it later, which she simply found amusing, but it was still a waste of time, and those girls, no matter how “innocent” my intentions seemed, are not my wife, and deep down my motivation was selfish amusement.

I confess this is a mild case — you and I have certainly done much dumber things.

Despite how devout our behavior might seem to others and what kind of image we deign to project, our intentions are not perceptible to anyone but God.

We have two cases of vanity and total disregard for God in the reading today.

David takes a census of the lands despite Joab’s warning not to do so. The big deal isn’t the census itself, but the reason behind doing so. He wants to see how many guys he’s got because he’s feeling insecure about his military prowess — and as the representative of the Most High God, this is a serious lapse in trust.

In Hosea, the author is much more blatant, accusing Israel of outright rejection of God and being immersed in sin despite pretty clear instruction to do otherwise.

Once again, in both situations, God is not as concerned with the sin itself as much as He is with the attitude behind it.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you murder someone, or slander someone behind their back, it’s destructive and has consequences involved.  But do you continue on blatantly, despite having knowledge and intending to use that knowledge for good?

When Jesus frees the adulterous woman from her accusers, His final instruction is to sin no more.  She doesn’t give her a pat on the back and send her off. He expects a difference.  We don’t “pick up our cross” as some religious act, but in an attempt to sacrifice our will to do things our way, to be compelled by our feelings, and to be obedient. Jesus even says if we love Him, we should do what the Father says.

We’re all going to have lapses.  We’re humans, full of error and selfish ambition.  But if we already know better, and the decision should be clear, we should follow through.

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