Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oh Be Careful...

My Daughters,

Purity has taken some hits through history.  Hundreds of years ago, those who wanted to worship God in pure, undefiled worship, completely unrestricted by the state church, were labeled "Puritans".  This was not a compliment, it was an insult. But they liked the name and took it as their own.  Many who take purity seriously today are labeled as "legalists" or worse.  I'd like to talk about purity and it's place in our lives as believers and followers of Christ.

So, what is the definition of purity?  Hagnotes definition is "chastity, uprightness of life".  Merriam-Webster defines it as "the quality or state of being pure", and defines "pure" as "free from moral fault or guilt" . Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines purity as "pure from defilement, not contaminated" and says it is from the same root as "holy".  

When I was a very little girl, I learned a song that we often sang in school that is all about purity, even though I didn't know it at the time.  The words go like this:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see!
Oh be careful little eyes what you see!
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see!

Oh be careful little ears what you hear!
Oh be careful little ears what you  hear !
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears what you  hear !

Oh be careful little hands what you do!
Oh be careful little hands what you do!
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little hands what you do!

It was such a fun song to sing because it had great hand motions to go with it.  The words are so good for children to learn too.  It's so easy for children to see, hear and do things that they shouldn't, and the memories can last a lifetime!  But this song isn't just for children!  We must all be very careful what we allow ourselves to see, hear and do.

Casting Crowns recently released a song called "Slow Fade", and they included children singing a verse of the "Oh Be Careful" song in it.  This song has a great message for all of us.  It's so easy to allow things into our lives that seem insignificant at the time, but they can quickly grow and take over our lives, destroying our relationship with God and our families.  Take a moment to watch and listen to this music video:

It's so easy to let our moral purity slide in today's culture, but it can start in childhood.

As children, there is a purity of mind, a naivety, that is something to protect.  While all are born with sin, babies and young children have this purity if they have been sheltered from the evils of our world.  They assume that all people are good and would never hurt them.  They haven't been exposed to corrupt things that seep into their thoughts.  At least most children.  Sadly there are many children who have been exposed to evil through the movies and music their parents and family watch/listen to, and even more tragic are the children exposed to evils purposely by corrupt adults.  But that is not what I am going to be dealing with today.  I want to talk about what we allow into our lives and the lives of those around us.

Children need to be protected from evil influences.  Images, songs, and actions that children see, hear and participate in can stick with them for a lifetime, robbing them of some of the joys that most of us take for granted.  Young adults are bombarded in our culture at too early an age with images and songs that encourage them to think about boy/girl relationships and expose them to adult temptations long before they are mature enough to withstand them.  Today homeschoolers have been accused over and over again of sheltering their children.  These critics say that when these sheltered homeschooled children get "out in the world" they will freak out - go off the deep end.  That they will not be able to "handle" all that the world will throw at them.  They would rather see us begin to expose our children to the ways of the world while they are young, so they are used to it when they become young adults.

I believe that the philosophy of the world is flawed, and that there is great merit to sheltering our children.  I have heard it likened to a green house.  When a seedling sprouts it is unable to survive in the climate outside until it is strong.  The green house completely protects the seedling until it becomes prepared to go out into the garden.  A green house is usually equipped with the ability to open the windows and ceilings, allowing in fresh air at the warmest part of the day.  The time the plant is exposed to the elements (cold, rain and wind for example) can be slowly increased until the plant is determined to be hardy and then is ready to be planted in the garden and thrive.  This process is carefully planned and controlled by the owner of the plants and green house.

I believe that our children are very much like those plants.  If they are exposed to the evils of our world without any filter or protection when they are young and vulnerable, they will succumb to these influences and their purity will die.  If, however, our children's purity is carefully guarded in their childhood, and then with careful thought and the help of their parents allowed to learn about the world around them and the evils therein, supported by conversation and teaching them go to the Word of God in order understand what God has to say about such things, our children can develop a world view that is godly and biblical and be prepared to refute the philosophies of this world and, with God's help,  stand up under the temptations they will encounter.  If parents are not careful about what their children are exposed to, and are not there to discuss what God's word has to say, they can compromise their children's purity and ability to process the world around them.  In Deuteronomy 11:18 - 19  it instructs parents saying "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul....You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up."  It is the responsibility of parents to be with their children as much as possible, teaching them the truths of God's word and applying them in every circumstance.

But how can we, as young women and older women, be pure?  What does that look like?  Let's take a look first at what the Bible says about purity:

I Timothy 4:12 says "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

2 Timothy 2:22 says "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart"

Titus 1:15 says "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled"

Titus 2:5 admonishes women "to be sensible, pure. workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

There are several things to consider when applying the concept of purity to our lives as women.  As seen in the scriptures above, it can involve our thoughts, speech, conduct, love and devotion to God.  I believe it can also involve how we act and how we dress.  It also involves what we expose ourselves to - garbage in, garbage out, so to speak.

First let's talk about our thoughts.  It amazes me that our minds seem to never stop thinking, unless we are asleep, but even then our thoughts can effect our dreams!  Until reading the book "Loving God with all Your Mind" by Elizabeth Elliot, I had never really thought about my thoughts and whether or not I could control them!  She explained that in 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul tells them that "we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" and that in Philippians 4:8, he admonishes them by saying "Finally, my brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  It is so easy to allow our thoughts to wander!  Sin originates in the mind.  First we consider the temptation, then we think about giving in to it, pondering the sin, and then we act.  The mind is a powerful thing, and can seem out of our control at times.  But God can give us the ability to control our thoughts and turn away from impure thoughts.  It is important that we do this, because impure thoughts can and will lead to impure speech and actions.  If you wouldn't say or do the things you are thinking about in the presence of Jesus Christ, then you have no business thinking about it at anytime - remember your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit!  When you find yourself having thoughts that are not pure, quickly ask the Lord to take away the thoughts, to purify your mind, and then purpose to think on something else that is acceptable before the Lord.

One part of purity of the mind is being careful what we expose ourselves to.  Images and videos can stay in our minds permanently, coming back to haunt us when we least want them to.  Lyrics from songs can play over and over in your mind, even though you thought you weren't listening to the lyrics.  Would the images, videos, movies and songs you are exposing yourself to pass the test of Philippians 4:8?  Oh, be careful little eyes and ears - garbage in, garbage out.  If we feed our minds on the trash of this world, we can not expect our thoughts to be pure.  And our thoughts are where our actions and speech originate from.  So think twice about what you choose to expose yourself to, because you may never be able to get it out of your head.

Now let's consider our speech.  Does your speech always reflect purity?  Would someone you don't know well, but has heard you talk, consider your language and speech to be pure?  Would your speech make them aware of your faith in Jesus Christ, or would the revelation that your are a Christian surprise them?  There are many things that women participate in that can defile their speech - gossip, coarse joking, insults and snide remarks, sarcasm, flirting, and curses to name a few.  I'd like to talk about a kind of blasphemy and curses that is often overlooked.

You probably don't think you curse or blaspheme, but let's take a closer look.  Do you say "Oh my god"?  That is so common in our culture that many Christians take our God's name in vain on a daily basis.  What about using "OMG" in your texts and facebook status updates?  What about "Gee", "Golly," "Jees" and "Oh my Gosh" (Webster's Dictionary says "Origin of GOSH. euphemism for God", Origin of Golly is euphemism for God,) ?  There are more out there, but these are all derivatives of our precious Lord's name and can lead to true blasphemy.  Are these words used in a way to make our speech beautiful?  Pleasant? Or are they just substitutions for blasphemy?  I consider them nicknames, and they are a stepping stone into true blasphemy.  God does say in the Bible not to take His name in vane, but he never said we can't take our name in vane...if you must, say "man"! Let us not use our mouths to express the name of our precious Savior who died in our place in a careless way, and then use that same mouth to praise that name on Sunday morning!

"But I'd never say a curse" you say?  Do you ever say "dang it", "dang nab it" "darn" "darn it"?  Those are all substitutes for saying "damn".  Did you know that "damn" is defined as a verb that is "God condemning a person to suffer eternal punishment in hell: "To be forever damned with Lucifer".  The original phase is "God damn it," which you can hear on occasion, .  Really?  Should we as Christians say anything like that?  Is there a need for it?  These words are usually used in anger, a sin by the way.  So instead of speaking out in anger and cursing someone of something to the depths of hell, we should be asking the Lord for grace to stand under the daily frustrations (which, but the way, He has ordained for you to endure in the process of becoming Christ-like!).  What about "heck" "sam hill"?  Those are referring to hell.  Is there a need for a Christian to speak of hell on a regular basis?  And then there's the all to common "What the..." This leaves the listener to fill in the blank, and even godly individuals have probably heard the unsavory endings to this enough that their minds will fill in the blank, corrupting their minds in that moment, almost without their ever having time to stop the thought from happening.  Ephesians 4:29 says "Let no unwholesome word proceed from  your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."  Let that verse be the filter that all your speech passes through before you utter it. God is interested in our speech, if you don't believe me, check out this list of verses about our speech!

What about our conduct?  We need to think twice about the things we agree to be involved in.  For example, take dancing.  If you have made a commitment to remain pure until your wedding day, saving that first kiss for your husband, what about physical contact?  I must say that slow dancing, close bodily contact, is giving part of yourself away before the alter.  Would your future husband want you to be holding hands with, or holding your body against, another man?  If you knew who your future husband was, and he was watching you dance with someone else, would you feel uncomfortable?  What about the feelings and thoughts you are probably causing in the young man you are dancing with?  Would you feel comfortable dancing with that young man if his fiance was standing there?  What about participating in that conduct in front of your parents?  Your pastor?  Your Savior?  What about the movies you see?  The restaurants/bars you frequent.  What about smoking, drinking or getting tattoos?  Consider carefully if you would do that if Christ were by your side, and if you wouldn't, then you shouldn't do it - He's in your heart, seeing everything you do.  Our lives should be a reflection of our faith in Christ.  We are to be growing Christ-like.  If Jesus wouldn't do what you are doing, should you be doing it?

The last things I want to talk about is how we, as women, choose to dress.  This is a very sticky subject, and I may step on some toes here.  I do not want to give you a list of what is modest and pure the wear, but to address the heart of the matter.  Men are visually oriented, and they were created to appreciate a woman's figure and to be attracted physically to their wife in a sensual, visual way.  Women are emotionally and physically oriented - we find fulfillment in our relationship with our husband (future husbands) through physical touch and emotional connection.  We women need to be very careful in how we dress.  Men can easily be tempted by the sight of a women who has dressed provocatively.  I know that it can feel good to have a man appreciate our beauty, but we should not be seeking that by dressing in a way to draw attention to our bodies.  I do not mean that you have to dress in a gunny sack, but you should not be dressing in such a way as to cause your brothers in Christ to stumble.  Let me be frank with you - showing your thighs or cleavage, or wearing clothes that reveal the curves of your body is defrauding to your brothers in Christ.  When you dress, check yourself in the mirror.  Bend over, sit in a chair.  Does your clothing draw attention to certain parts of your body?  Make sure that your womanly features are carefully hidden.  Save them for your husband!  You can dress femininely without being immodest.  If you are unsure, ask your father if he approves of your choice of clothing?  Your brothers?  Your pastor?  Would you want your daughter to dress in that manner?  What about your future husband - would you want him to be exposed to another woman wearing what you are wearing?  Let your true beauty be that of your inward self.  Let others be attracted to your personality and wit.  Let your clothes be outward adornment, adding to that inner beauty.

You might be saying in your heart that I am being a legalist - don't drink, don't dance....But it is a matter of the heart that I am talking about.  Are you living to please yourself or to please your Savior?  If you truly love your Lord, then you will plan your life around doing things that please Him and reflect His image in your life.  Are you living your life as a sacrifice of holiness to the one who lived a sinless life yet hung on a cross, dying a gruesome death in your place, or are you trampling on His sacrifice by claiming to be a Christian yet living as though you are not.  Romans 12:2 says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Your conduct does reflect on God if you claim Him.  But most importantly, your conduct reflects your love for Him, :

What about young women who have not been sheltered and bear the scares of exposure to the evils of our world?  What then?  Then start today.  Ask the Lord to purify your mind of the memories and images you have that are defiled.  Purpose to live a life of holiness, with God's help and grace.   Do not dwell on where you have been, holding onto bitterness or making excuses.  God is writing the story of your life, and He will use all of your life to be a testimony of His grace.  He has given you a garment of righteousness in exchange for your garment of defilement.  Claim this every time you are tempted to consider yourself less that your sisters in Christ.  We are all sinful, we all sin.  But the good news is that forgiveness is available through Christ's shed blood, all we need to do it ask.  And He doesn't only forgive, He forgets, and so must we.  Use your experiences to show God's amazing grace in your life, but don't let them drag you down, make you feel defiled or hinder  your serving your Lord in purity and truth today.

So be careful to be pure, be careful of what you allow into your life so you can be a fragrance of purity in a world of defilement.

All My Love,


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