What Needs to Go?

I worked for Wal-Mart for five years. During that time, I discovered a talent for “zoning,” which means straightening the shelved items so the store is neat and presentable. I became quite adept at zoning and frequently trained people to perform the task. I learned something from that experience that helps me in writing and life.
When I approached shelves of shampoo, for instance, I would make sure all of the items were pulled to the front and straight. That was where most stopped. I went further. When I looked at the shelves, if something caught my eye, it had to be corrected. Standing at the end of the aisle, the eye must see only uniformity.
When writing and editing, it is much the same principle. Successful writing comes from a rigorous editing process. The article is edited repeatedly until all the mistakes are removed. When writers are reading their articles aloud or in their heads, if something stands out, it must go.
This method will make the writing smoother and more rhythmic. The words and arguments should flow from the beginning to the end. Nothing gets in the way of this goal. Consequently, the writer cannot be too possessive of his words. All are dispensable if they conflict with the ultimate goal.
Our Pug, Chi, eats about everything he can get in his mouth. Therefore, before he is released into the living room, the room must be de-Pugged so there will not be anything for him to eat.
When gymnasts train for the Olympics, they continue to perfect their routine until it is flawless.
A lawyer making his closing statement must labor until he has filled every hole in his argument. It must be clear, bold, logical, and thoroughly prepared.
A woman on her wedding day obsesses over every detail of her dress, hair, makeup, and jewelry. She will worry over it and tweak it until she is satisfied.
All of these examples are clear and understandable. Their lessons are transferable to our spiritual lives. We must be just as rigorous as we pore over our Christian lives and seek to remove the impurities we find there.
We realize we have sin in our lives (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:10). Yet, we are not to be ruled by sin because it brings death (Romans 5:12). God is eager to cleanse us from our sins if we will submit to him (Romans 5:6-11; Acts 22:16). Moreover, when he forgives our sins, they are forever forgotten (Jeremiah 31:34).
Purging this sin from our lives is painful. While God forgives, we must admit and abandon our sins (1 John 1:9,10). Yet, there are often sins that we do not wish to abandon, so we rationalize them until we find them acceptable. As we entrench ourselves in denial, these sins slowly destroy us.
Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV). This self-examination requires courage and resolve. Excising a beloved part of our lives is indeed painful, and a period of mourning may result. But the surgery is for the best.
Sin separates us from God and brings certain spiritual death (Isaiah 59:1,2; Romans 6:23). Realizing the hazards of sin, we courageously examine our lives in minute detail so we can purge all of the sin from our lives. The stakes are too high to stash away some secret sin. Besides, nothing is hidden from the eyes of God (Psalm 139:7-12).


Which Sins Are We Rationalizing?

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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