My son, Nathan Kinzinger, has a gifted ability for translating God's Word into practical relevance for our everyday lives. Recently, he shared his heart with a group of men. I was convicted by what I read and asked permission to reprint here. I hope you will enjoy. More importantly, I hope that it challenges you (as it did me) to live as one who owes a debt he can never repay.
Men: There are times, I believe, that God lights a fire in my soul with the intention of spreading that flame to you. Over the past few weeks, He has been teaching, moving and challenging me through the book of Romans combined with observations of my own life and the lives of the Christian men around me. Permit me to be blunt – with the intention of a coach watching a team play sloppy ball and challenging/encouraging them to remember the fundamentals and re-focus on the task at hand.
Romans 13:7 commands us to “give everyone what you owe them” and identifies what we owe as everything from taxes to respect. It is not an option – it is a ground rule of our Christian work. The question that comes from this is, “What does scripture say that we owe God?” Jesus told us to ‘consider the cost’ BEFORE following Him – so although there is a free gift of salvation – there is also a ‘debt’ of expectation for our lives that occurs simultaneously. That debt as I currently understand it is two things:
1. The call to love God with everything we have.
2. The call to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
If true spiritual warfare is against our flesh … it would make sense that our flesh, our instincts and the instincts of everyone not under the influence of the Holy Spirit would be in direct rebellion to these two ‘payments.' Satan and his demons are defeated, predictable enemies that know our world is the way to tempt us. They are aware that our flesh will agree with the world – so his efforts are to bait us into filling our soul and mind with the way the world operates – and to surround us with people and circumstances that affirm that as ‘right’. Our culture will affirm our actions as right because it agrees with their flesh – and our path slowly and quietly will diverge from the focus we are called to have on our ‘debt’ to God. We never realize we left our command to love – and we have defaulted on our debt.
In the past 14 days I have heard Christian men treat sexual behavior outside of marriage as casual or permissible, joke of getting drunk, exhibit angry behavior, show public empathy to people they privately despise . . . and it leaves me convicted to the depths of my soul . . . as I have been guilty of each of these things at some point in my time as a Christian.
Here’s my question, “At what point does a Christian man leave his post and begin to embrace sin as harmless? At what point does he forget that he has been bought with a price.” He is called to repay the debt by loving the unlovable, by repaying wrong with good, and by maintaining clean hands and a pure heart in front of a holy God. Not to be pessimistic – rather observant – but it seems to me that many of us have not properly counted the costs before putting on the cloak of Christ. It is better for a man to live without salvation – than to claim salvation and live in selective sin. Nothing damages the name of Christ more than that … nothing.
Men – this is not written from a heart of sadness – it is written from one of hope. I need strong, powerful leaders around me and these are the men I seek out because I will never fulfill the calling to follow Christ wholeheartedly alone. Men who live and breathe Paul’s challenge at the end of Romans 13 . . . “Wake up from our slumber, our salvation is nearer now that when we came to faith in Christ. Put aside darkness, put on the armor of light and clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. DO NOT THINK about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Men who ‘take their thoughts captive and bring them in submission to Christ.’ Men who are powerful – seizing their own minds and requiring them to submit before the God.
I write this to myself as well as to you. The old statement “If not us – who? If not now – when?” applies to our lives in this world. Scripture challenges us to be awake to righteousness, awake to LIFE . . . to be glad, reconciled, wise, harmless, ready, content, merciful, like faithful servants, thankful, at peace, patient, no partaker of sin, sober in hope – prayer – mind, behaving as becomes Christ, discreet, baptized, transformed . . . and ready to give an answer to everyone who wonders WHY we behave so differently. We are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ and are called to bring His peace to this world. We remain sober in judgment and body, we remain pure in mind, we refrain from revenge and anger even when provoked and we love people regardless of their love for us.
Men, I love each of you and I challenge each to consider what I have shared from my heart as it comes directly from God’s word. May we recommit ourselves to study scripture daily – to obey ALL of God’s commands, not simply the convenient ones. We don’t need perfection – but there is a real cost to doing wrong and we’re called to stop it.
No one would laugh at landing a whip stroke directly on the back of Christ with our own hand - yet when we joke about being drunk or justify lust or greed or anger - we do exactly that. Expect to be challenged by our enemy (baited even), give yourself grace in the journey but don’t give yourself permission to sin, lean on like-minded brothers to stay the course and let's recommit to be men of action, men who can be counted on as foundation pieces for the Church. We represent hope - we are living examples of what reconciliation and peace can look like in the human heart.
With much respect and belief in your ability to do great things. / N8
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