Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | December 6, 2022

An Asterisk Life

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15

I was listening to an amazing and very heady Christian podcast called “Just Thinking”—it’s very intellectually demanding and spirit-inspiring, not the kind you can casually listen to at the gym. Anyway, the topic was indwelling sin in believers, and at one point one of the hosts made an off-the-cuff comment that struck me as incredibly profound. He said that with regard to obedience to God, Christians have a tendency to live with some asterisks—exceptions made for them. Mic drop. He didn’t dwell on the topic…but I did.

As a professional writer, much of my work is very technical (writing marketing material for a global computer company, a data analytics company, and others). And pretty much every piece I write in this genre includes an asterisk statement or two. You know, you read the sentence, see the “*” and look down to the bottom of the page for an explanation. Usually, it’s denoting that the sentence you just read is sometimes true, but there are caveats when it’s not true or is not relevant or applicable.

When it comes to living according to God’s Word, do we live a life with asterisks? Do we read in Matthew 5:43-48, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and see an asterisk for ourselves? We may think, “Sure, Jesus said that to His audience, but that’s not applicable to me. He didn’t mean my neighbor/boss/government leader…that guy doesn’t deserve my love or prayers!” Or perhaps you know well that the Bible admonishes us to flee sexual immorality and that sex is designed only between a husband and wife (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:1-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). But c’mon (insert asterisk here), that’s so irrelevant today. You live with your boyfriend because it’s financially wise—and he said he’s going to propose at some point. And (this one’s a real stinger, friend) God’s Word is very clear about us not fearing or being anxious (Philippians 4:6-7; Joshua 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:7; Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8:15). Asterisk living says, “Yeah, but THIS situation is different—there are so many things to worry about! I’m so afraid!”

As Christians, we are called to be holy and set apart (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are to pursue righteousness—after all, we have been made righteous through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21)! We cannot pursue or even tolerate sin (Ephesians 4:17-32). Don’t get me wrong, we will sin—we cannot be perfectly holy and righteous as long as we are in this fallen world with this fallen body. But we must constantly walk in the direction of holiness, aligned with God’s Word and His will. And when we do mess up, we know it, we’re convicted, we ask forgiveness, and we repent (turn the other way). This is sanctification. We cannot, however, intentionally insert an asterisk here and there because we choose to disobey—because we believe that commandment or directive is not true, not relevant, or not applicable for us.

Friend, our holiness—our set-apartness—is when our light shines and we draw others to Jesus. Conversely, asterisk living makes us look more and more like the world. And if Christianity is just like the world, why would anyone want to give their life to Jesus?

“Father, help me live each day in accordance with Your Word, not making exceptions or excuses for my sin.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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