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Saturday, 7 April 2018

Contrôle Technique

For those who do not understand the heading, it is the French equivalent of the UK Ministry of Transport test (MOT) and, I am delighted to report that, when I submitted our car, last week, it passed! Part of the reason for that was my having just replaced all four tyres - two because they had reached the limit of the legal tread depth; and two because, although they had plenty of tread depth, they were not the same brand of tyre on a single axle - a French requirement that is not a UK one!

Of course, while I was aware of the tyre situation, there were many other issues on which the car could have been failed - issues of which I would have been totally unaware! I am thinking, for example, of the exhaust emissions. I had no idea as to whether, or not, they would be within the acceptable range!

It occurred to me, afterwards, that this is a bit like sin in my life! There are some sins of which, like my unsatisfactory tyres, I am all too well aware. These are the sins to which. I believe, the anonymous writer of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus was referring when he wrote: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, ..." (12:1; emphasis added). There are areas in my life in which the enemy knows that I am most vulnerable - and he takes every opportunity to attack me there! Left to my own devices, I would always fail and, sadly, I often do. However, that quotation for Hebrews continues: "... looking to Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (vs. 2-4; emphasis added). That's the answer - "... looking to Jesus ..."!

The important thing is to deal with these sins, as I dealt with my tyres - and to do so in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and with the assistance of God the Holy Spirit.

Of course, there may be other sins of which I have not yet become fully aware, or which I simply don't recognise as 'sin'! These are the equivalent of the exhaust emissions, or of a crack in a spring, in my car. This is where I have to ask for discernment, that I may recognise those "unconscious" sins for what they are. It may even be that I have to ask someone else - someone whom I trust! - to point them out to me, just as the Contrôle Technique examiner (or the MOT test examiner) would point out the problem with emissions, springs, brake discs, etc. Of course, when they have been identified, those sins, too, need to be dealt with!

Amost exactly five years ago, I published a post on "A spiritual MOT test!" You may be able to use the link to read the whole post, but let me repost a check-list (not my original!) that I shared then:

  • am I clean in word, thought, and deed?
  • is Christ, as far as I can make Him, the Head of my home?
  • do they know that I am a disciple of Jesus where I work?
  • are other people likely to be drawn to better things for knowing me?
  • do I guard time, each day, for reading my Bible, and for prayer?
  • do I regularly attend worship services, and attend at the Lord's Table?
  • do other people find it easy to work with me in Christian service?
  • am I generous, as far as I am honestly able, to Christian work?
  • am I growing in Christ?
That list stands. It is a useful set of checks for self-examination. However, I think that I would wish to add to it! For example:
  • what are the web-sites that I have marked as 'Favourites'? Are there any that would cause me embarrasment if my pastor were to see them? I recall some years ago, on a visit, asking my host if I might have access to the internet to check some e-mails. The access was readily given and, as I logged on, the 'Favourites' list was displayed. I noticed one site that I thought was that of a newspaper, but with a typing error in the name. I clicked on the link - and discovered, to my shock, that there was no typing error, as I was taken to a site that was obviously intended for those with an interest in homosexuality! To say that I was shocked would be something of an understatement!
  • am I in control of my temper? Or is it that, even in print, I constantly resort to the use of upper-case letters - the literary equivalent, I am told, of angry verbal shouting?
  • how am I treating those most close to me? I recall my own minister, spiritual mentor, and personal friend, the late Rev. George B Duncan, often commenting that if we really wanted to know what sort of person he was, we should ask his wife! We only saw him as "the minister"; she lived with him! We saw him at his best; she saw him at his worst! What would my own wife have to say about me?!! Perhaps I should ask her before anyone else does!
You see, all of the above applies as much to me as it does to anyone who might read this post - and maybe more than it does to some! The life of a disciple of Jesus is not a life of sinless perfection, but of sanctification as, through the indwelling of Holy Spirit, Father God makes me more like Jesus. A little home-made plaque on my study wall has these words: "In this life I shall never be sinless but, by God's grace, I may sin less!" (emphasis added). I think that the words are original! They are certainly true! 

My car is now, officially, considered to be roadworthy for another two years. But what about me? Am I still worthy to be a disciple of Jesus? If I am, and I trust that I am, it is all due to His grace, and mercy, and love. All of that is available to you, too.  Have you availed yourself of it? If not, why not? 

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