Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Search Me, O God"1 (Lyrics)
I've just returned from the gas station, where I filled up the gas tank in my car for just under $20. Gas prices in the USA have been rising almost daily to the point where they're more than double what they were two years ago, so you may wonder how I managed to fill up the tank for such a small amount. I've adopted a plan: as soon as my gas gauge goes down about one-quarter, I stop at a gas station and fill up the tank. $20 or $25 a week (4-5 gallons or 15-19 litres) fits my budget better than the $75 or more that it would cost if I waited till the tank was almost empty.
I think of it as keeping short accounts with my gas tank (and my chequebook). Keeping short accounts originated in the accounting world: to keep one's accounts payable on a "short basis" means to keep them paid up, not to let them become extended or overdue. So, I'm paying attention to my gas tank and my finances, not letting them getting extended to the point that filling up my tank becomes a financial burden.
This reminded me of the greater importance of keeping short accounts in two areas of our lives: between us and those we interact with daily, either at home or out in the world, and between us and our God.
Ephesians 4:31 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (ESV)
Our sinful human nature almost guarantees that, at one time or another, we will offend someone or someone will offend us. Personalities collide, opinions clash, words are spoken without thought. However, Scripture clearly declares that we are to forgive, not just once, not even seven times, but "seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22 NLT). Whew! Easy to say, hard to do, but crucial, not only for our relationships with others, but for our own emotional and physical health.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
When we become children of God, our sins are forgiven and forgotten. But as we continue through life's trials and temptations, it's essential to keep short accounts with God, continually confessing our struggles and failures that are an inevitable part of living in this sinful world. It's important not to let this weigh down our hearts and souls, but quickly to ask His forgiveness and to move on.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
Keeping short accounts with others and with God isn't easy or comfortable, but so necessary! We can become weighed down with guilt or anger that affects our relationships and our health. Or we can emulate the forgiveness that God has already extended to us as we offer mercy and love to those around us and as we keep the communication lines between us and God clear of guilt. It's our choice.
Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart today; Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray. See if there be some wicked way in me; Cleanse me from ev'ry sin and set me free. Amen. (J. Edwin Orr)