15:29 “You will do well to avoid these things.”
Acts 15:29 (NIV)
We all want our seasons back, our routines back, our “lives” back. What is the first thing you’re looking forward to bringing back into your life right now and having close at hand?
God may grant that very thing -- perhaps even soon.
BUT Scripture also reminds us that no matter whether we get these things back or not, God warns us that there are some distances that we’re wise to keep no matter how much access returns to us.
Let’s take a look at where God says critical distance is always needed.
SIN: Know when to keep your distance … always from sin, often from sinners. We live WITH sin, but we don’t have to live IN sin. Sin exists in us but it doesn’t have to reign in us.
Draw a tighter circle here. God honors this (Psalm 1, Proverbs 4:14,15, Romans 6:12).
EVIL: The Bible says to “shun evil,” to “hate it,” to “avoid” it and “flee” from it. That’s strong language! It calls for us first to see it for what it really is, to recognize it as a serious threat. And then to get some distance from it, to avoid it, to flee it, to run with pace the other way.
Too often we tolerate it in and around us. We say it’s OK for evil to be our neighbor, around our house, in our refrigerator, on our screens. We minimize evil like it’s benign, not toxic, not the parasite, the virus that it really is ... until it’s too late (Romans 12:9, Proverbs 14:16, 2 Timothy 2:22).
GUILT and SHAME: These two are monsters, like recurring bad dreams that eat us up. The only way they go away is by getting forgiveness from God and others, and living in this grace.
When we hide our lives in Christ, in His forgiveness -- guilt and shame go. His blood speaks better things (Romans 8:1).
LAZINESS: Keep your distance from the lazy and from lazy living. Slothfulness will bring you down in all kinds of ways. Watch out! Keep moving (2 Thessalonians 3:6, Hebrews 6:12, Proverbs 12:24).
DARKNESS: Distance yourself from darkness, the kind of life that lives too much in the shade, in secret, alone. It never helps us fully see what really matters.
Open the blinds. Work in community with others. Work while it is day. Live in the Light (Job 24:13-17, Ephesians 5:8,11, John 9:4).
ILLICIT SEX: God designed one place on earth where we are fully known and still loved -- marriage. Sex outside this bed brings much pain, even disaster.
Keep your distance from any other expression. The One who made our bodies and invented sex says so (1 Corinthians 6:16-20, Acts 15:29).
HARD-HEARTEDNESS: This condition is serious. Avoid hard-heartedness at all costs. It blinds eyes, deafens ears, numbs the soul, and kills real understanding. Don’t let your heart grow hard, calloused, cold toward the things of God (Hosea 10:12, Acts 28:27, Ephesians 4:18, Hebrews 3:15).
FOOLS/FOOLISHNESS: “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips“ (Proverbs 14:7 New Living Testament). “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior“ (2 Timothy 2:16). Enough said!
EXTREMES: We are indulgent people, given to gluttony in so many forms. Be careful. Living a dogmatic life is dangerous. “Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes“ (Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV).
So let’s keep great distance from these things if we know what’s good for us. Big, inevitable blessings await as we do.
Reflect: Of the points above, where are you struggling most to keep your distance?
What one specific step will you take today to create new space to get a win? Who can you help to get some good spacing too?
A prayer to consider: LORD God Almighty, thank You for loving me enough to tell me the truth, to warn me about my spacing, to coach me toward life, not death, and to model appropriate distance through Christ. O, how I honor You!
By Your Spirit and through Your living Word, may I monitor my distances well. Protect me from without and within. I depend on You as my Refuge and Rescue, Mighty Rock that You are (Psalm 62:7). Amen.