Fat By Any Other Name
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A number of years ago, my son was a lineman on the local football team, and all of his friends were too. And they were all lifting weight a lot and getting bigger. And they were all eating a lot, and also getting bigger because of that. Well, I noticed that all the guys who were playing on the line were developing big muscles and big stomachs to match. And I was dumb enough, because they were all bigger than I was, to comment on that one day. And my son indignantly said, "Dad, we're proud of that! That's 'lineman's gut'!" I never heard that before, but I mean it looked to me like it was "lineman's fat." But I guess I didn't know what it really was. Well, that same son later lost 30 pounds and the tummy was all gone. So, I said, "Son, do you remember when you told me that was 'lineman's gut'?" He looked at me and he said, "Dad, I think that's what we call a rationalization."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Samuel chapter 15. We're looking at the life of King Saul, who has been commanded by God to perform, well, cancer surgery. That is, there's a group of people who have become spiritually a cancer in the land in which they live. They are called the Amalekites. They have defied God every step of the way, and God gives to King Saul, the first King of Israel, the command to totally eradicate all the Amalekites and any memory of them. In a sense, it is spiritual cancer surgery.
Saul decides to spare the king. That would make a nice trophy. And the best of the sheep; the best of the oxen. He has disobeyed the Lord. But, listen to what he says, "When Samuel says, 'How come I hear sheep and cattle if you've obeyed the Lord?' Saul answered, 'The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites. They spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God. But we totally destroyed the rest.' 'Stop,' Samuel said to Saul, 'let me tell you what the Lord has said to me last night.'" Well, Saul continues, "I did obey the Lord." He continues to say, "We gave the best of what was devoted to God to sacrifice to the Lord your God." But Samuel replied, "Rebellion is like the sin of divination; arrogance like the evil of idolatry. You have rejected the Word of the Lord. He has rejected you as king."
Saul has disobeyed what God said, but notice he's wrapping it up in spiritual language. But it doesn't cut it with God. The human mind has this devious ability to rationalize doesn't it? To call fat "lineman's gut"? But fat by any other name is fat. We have this ability to twist words and logic to fit what we want. Sin by any other name is still sin. Saul tries to call it "the Lord's instructions," "devoted to God," "sacrifice to the Lord." God calls it "rebellion," "arrogance," and "rejecting the Word of the Lord," and judgment falls.
See, you can repackage sin in all kinds of religious rationalizations, but you can't fool God. You can come up with a rationale that's good enough for people, good enough for you, but it is not good enough for God. Could it be that you've taken what you want and quieted your conscience by putting a spiritual name on it? "The Lord is leading me." Really, it's, "I want this, and don't argue with me." Maybe you're calling it "waiting on the Spirit," when you're really just being lazy. Or you're calling it love, when it's lust, adultery. You're saying, "Well, I need all these things to take care of my family," when it's really greed and materialism.
Oh, the examples are endless, because we don't like to deal with sin; we like to disguise it. Maybe today would be a good day to pray something like this, "Lord, am I calling sin by a nice name? I don't want to mask my disobedience any longer."
Deal with it before God deals with you. What does God call it? See, sin by any other name is still sin. And as the Bible says, "If we would judge ourselves, then we will not be judged."
© (c) Ronald P. Hutchcraft
Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.