Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 13

Nehemiah 5:14 - 7:60; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Psalm 33:1-11; Proverbs 21:8-10

I couldn't help but thinking about modesty when I read Paul's words in I Corinthians 8:9-13 today.  It's full into summer in LA, and the endless sunshine prompts the people here to shed clothes.  I've been to more than one beach and pool this summer, and I've seen far more skin than I wanted to see.  I have two sons on the cusp of manhood and a daughter who is extremely aware of fashion, not to mention the littles who, though still somewhat oblivious, always catch more than I realize.

I sometimes feel desperate to protect them all.  

Believers aren't exempt from the temptation to reveal more body than conceal.  There are Christian universities nearby and I drive to and from youth group.  I'm not naive and I'm not blind.

I worry about the young men growing up.  As the beautiful girls around them exercise their "freedom," how will my sons and their friends keep themselves with integrity and purity?  It will be difficult, if not impossible, to not see!  

I worry about the young women growing up.  As their peers' shorts grow shorter and shorter and their tank tops tighter and tighter, how will my daughters and their friends learn to value their bodies rightly and righteously?  It will be difficult, if not impossible, to choose otherwise.

I'll say it again: I sometimes feel desperate to protect them all.

I know Paul wasn't talking about modesty.  I know he was setting out guidelines on how to love fellow believers as they were coming out of paganism.  But I think the principle may hold true - or may at least be worth considering.

If our freedoms cause others to struggle, why hold to them?  Isn't the good of another person more important than my personal inclinations?  Sacrificial love means setting aside our preferences for the good of others.  It means taking unpopular stances and earning the disapproval of a teenaged daughter.  It means frank conversations and embarrassing questions with beloved sons. 

Jesus himself wanted to turn away from the cost of sacrificial love.  The gate is narrow, he told us (Mt. 7:13).  Living like Jesus was never supposed to be easy.

But, oh, like our psalm said two days ago, "How great is [his] goodness, which [he has] stored up for those who fear [him]" (Ps. 31:19)!  The abundance of God's goodness in exchange for me curtailing my 'rights'?  Seems like a very good deal.

- Sarah Marsh

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