The Word For Today

Your pattern sins 2

'Be kind...tenderhearted, forgiving one another.' Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Our areas of weakness are usually consistent and predictable. It's like having a 'sin profile'. In his book Signature Sins: Taming Our Wayward Hearts, Dr Michael W. Mangis identifies nine of these patterns using an ancient system called the Enneagram. It's somewhat controversial because it's been used by many spiritual traditions. However, it's thought to have originated out of consideration of the seven deadly sins and the fruit of the Spirit, therefore it can be applied within a Christian framework. To help you become more self-aware and build a defence against your particular area of vulnerability, let's spend the next few days looking at these nine pattern sins, and the people most likely to wrestle with them.

Reformers: Reformers are drawn to perfection. They have a high standard of excellence and their greatest fear is being flawed. (They make good surgeons - and excellent golfers.) At their best they're crusaders, watchdogs and prophets. But because they wrestle with perfectionism and self-righteousness, they tend to judge others whose standards aren't quite so high. The prophet Amos is a good example. He writes about 'a plumb line' that shows how far short people fall of God's standards (see Amos 7:7-8).

Writing to the reformers, Paul said, 'Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you' (Ephesians 4:32 NLT). As a reformer your greatest challenge will be to demonstrate love, patience, and grace in your dealings with others. And with God's help you can do it.

Soulfood: Ex 39-40 Jn 5:1-15 Ps 41 Pro 27:7-9,


Your pattern sins 1

'The sin that so easily trips us up.' Hebrews 12:1 NLT

In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg points out that a 'pattern sin' is one you're habitually drawn to. That doesn't mean nobody else commits it. It just means you're vulnerable in a particular area, and usually it's related to your gifts. Just as home-run hitters in baseball also strike out a lot, your gifts and passions can indicate your areas of vulnerability. For example, extroverts who have the ability to inspire and encourage others are sometimes prone to gossip. People who love to learn may be tempted to feel superior and talk down to others. People who are spontaneous and have a great appetite for life often struggle with impulse control. Good listeners can become passive enablers. Optimists are often susceptible to denial.

Greek mythology speaks of the nemesis (an enemy who seems unbeatable). Your nemesis is like you in almost every way, except he's the ruined version of you. Sherlock Holmes' nemesis was Professor Moriarty, also a brilliant man. He was like Holmes would've been if he'd gone wrong. Because there's a relationship between the best and the worst versions of you, in many areas of life you're your own nemesis. And what they have in common is - they're both you!

Why is it helpful to know this? Because awareness and sensitivity to your own proclivities are the first steps towards building a defence. We have a staggering capacity for self-deception and self-justification. Addressing careless, cold-hearted believers in the end-age church, Jesus told them they needed 'ointment [the Holy Spirit] for your eyes so you will be able to see' (Revelation 3:18 NLT).

Soulfood: Acts 13:21-22 1 Sam 16 1 Sam 17:32-51 1 Sam 24:1-17,


Let God use what you've got

'What is that in your hand?' Exodus 4:2 NIV

The Bible says, 'Moses answered: "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The Lord did not appear to you?'" Then the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. The Lord said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake' (Exodus 4:1-3 NIV). Throwing down your staff, the thing you lean on, is frightening and counter-intuitive to all of us who are control freaks. But as long as you hold on to it and try to control it, God can't use it. In golf, when an amateur wants to drive the ball further they grip the club tighter, but it has the opposite effect. The key to a long drive is loosening your grip.

Moses' staff represented his identity and security. It was the way he made his living as a shepherd, and the way he protected himself and his flock. So when God told him to throw it down, he was asking Moses to let go of who he was and what he had. Question: What are you not willing to let go of? Answer: You don't control whatever it is you're holding on to, it controls you. If you don't throw it down, your staff will forever remain only a staff. But if you have the courage to surrender it to God, it can become the lightning rod of his miraculous power.

What's in your hand today? You can hang on to it and see what you can do, or hand it over and see what God can do. Today let God use what you've got.

Soulfood: Ex 36-38 Jn 4:39-54 Ps 87 Pro 27:4-6,

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