Istood in the backyard with our foster dog for her morning walk. I heard something creaking behind me. I turned and noticed the back door being slowly nudged open. Our cat, Emily, was attempting to push open the door that I did not fully latch closed. She stood frozen in place not sure if she should take another step while sniffing the ground outside. All I had to do was sharply say, “Emily!” and she gave her cat-sass while turning around to walk further into the house.
I knew she would not go outside more than a few steps if at all. She has been a finicky indoor cat since we saved her as a stray 12 years ago. The farthest she has ever been outside was probably five feet or so while hesitantly sniffing the ground. She knows she is not supposed to go outside which is why she is so hesitant and runs back inside at the sound of her name.
Then I thought: Who helps me when I am tempted to go outside God’s boundaries and sin? Who is there to call my name to help me not to take the wrong next step?
My family and I took Emily in as a stray not long after her eyes were opened. We are essentially the only family she’s known. We have fed, protected, and cared for her all these years. And she has been a good cat and listens well (for a cat).
Sometimes I reflect on how we treat our pets with how God treats his children. God adopted me through his son Jesus Christ when I was a stray – a lost, wayward child. God took me into his family. He gave me a home in the church with all his other adopted children. I grew to love them and care for them and trust them. And they did the same with me.
Even so, I do not listen as well to God as my cat listens to me. I know better – much better – than my cat does concerning living right. I am made in God’s image, redeemed by his Son, and I still get it wrong. To say it plainly – I still sin.
Yet, God is there to watch over me through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and my church family. I am not going to let my cat run freely outside in a world that would hurt her where she has no business. God does not want his children running freely in the flesh in a world in which they have no true business.
God has graciously given the church commands to love and help one another. He calls us to “have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Pt. 3:8). Confronting sin and facing sin is hard (Matt. 18:15) but it is done in love and because of love (1 Cor. 13:1–13). Furthermore, we Christians are not only to love one another as God taught us (1 Thess. 4:9) but to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). And we are to pursue peace and that which builds one another up (Rom. 14:19). Of course, church family life can be difficult and our motives must be pure which is another reason we need each other.
And so I encourage my fellow Christians (and myself) to consider: Who helps you when you are tempted? Who has God put in your life to walk with you? And in whose life has he put you to walk with? Who is there for you when temptation is leading you to push open that creaking door?
Grace and peace,