"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of LORD and on His law he meditates day and night," Psalm 1:1-2.
Have you ever been lied to by a good friend and then trusted them again only to be burned a second time? Has the old wisdom, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me again, shame on me," ever smacked you over the head? Why do we do these things? Well, it may well be that we do not have a proper understanding of depravity as it relates to our daily lives. While I have written a previous post about humanities utter depravity according to the Bible and we may intellectually agree with it, sometimes our brain and our heart are unequally yoked. What I'm saying is that we believe all people are depraved because of our sin nature, but not necessarily the people we hang out with! I mean, our friends, family and familiars are generally good and would not lie, cheat and steal against us.
Well friends, the Bible teaches that "all have sinned" and that the human "heart is desperately wicked" and that includes all of your friends, family and familiars who have not submitted to the rule of Jesus Christ in their lives. In fact, that includes all of those you know who have surrendered their lives to Christ but are currently walking in disobedience. So this makes things real tricky. But this idea of protecting against natural human depravity is a deeply American belief and is in fact foundational to our founding! Our founders understood this blemish in humanity and that is why they came up with a governing system founded on law, not man and why they set up a strict separation of powers in our government. They understood that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" so they devised a federalist system that gave the states more power than the federal government and the federal government was evenly divided between three branches. You can read about this more deeply elsewhere but my point is that this idea of depravity informing our daily life is not new and our system of government is one obvious and awesome example.
Here's another example: have you ever heard people talk about a close knit community or family? Have you ever heard someone say that it is difficult to become accepted in a certain town or community or family unless you are born there or have lived their many years? Why is that? Well, our elders understood something about human nature: it is not good. The biblical injunction is to welcome the stranger and be hospitable but it also stipulates that we don't put them in positions of authority or allow them unlimited access to the people and resources of a community, 1Tim. 3:6-7. They needed to be watched for a period of time and evaluated. Now, this can be and has been done to excess before but I do not believe this is as much a problem today and this situation has been largely inverted. Now it is often to our shame in a community if we do not immediately embrace with open arms any stranger without any evaluation. Today, money, prestige and just being "cool" sometimes allows strangers access to people and resources unthought of in years past. One example you see all the time is the single mom who dates a man for a short period of time and then they move in together. This is one of the most catastrophic situations in our country and it results in so much more violence than a traditional marriage. So often the cases of horrific violence against women and children arise out of this predicament. Why does this happen? Because the woman wrongly believes that the man she has just met is a good man and she has not "been transformed by the renewing of her mind" that allows her to step back and look at things from God's perspective. Obviously, by agreeing to this very arrangement they are disregarding God's law and rejecting Christ's rule in their lives. The idea of depravity probably never enters her mind and it seems entirely rational to her. I almost lost a family member to this madness. Interestingly, most of the family thought this sinful arrangement was fine and the new boyfriend was "nice" and his family was rich. He may have been rich, but he was depraved and in the worst sense of the word. One hundred years ago, well, even 50 years ago this could not have even been considered because our culture was largely sanctified by its Christian influence but in a post Christian America, it is those of us who point out the need for time, testing and evaluation of new members of a community or a new boyfriend who bear the brunt of scorn and shame.
So friends, lets understand that we must be "as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves" as we seek to live our Christian lives. We must be dispensers of God's grace but, we must not allow the resources Christ gives us to be abused by those who do not know Him.
God bless you and let's learn, live and love the glorious gospel of our risen Savior!