It was one of the last times she stood up for what was right during her short 60 years on this earth.
It was early Spring before my Mom went to Heaven. We were watching the local news when a story came on about how to save money on your property taxes. Always trying to be a wise steward of God’s money, the next day she looked into the details.
It didn’t take her long to decide that she couldn’t participate. You see, the money for the tax relief came from legalized gambling. To get the tax relief, you had to sign papers saying you wanted to participate in the program and receive your share of the money that this clearly anti-Biblical industry generated.
There was no way my Mom was going to sign those papers! As soon as my Mom found out, she decided that she could not participate. She chose to pay the higher taxes. It was more important to her to have a clear conscience before God and do the right thing than to save money.
Trust me when I say that my Mom’s stand came at a price. First, we had to pay a significantly higher property tax bill that year. Turns out that unknown to my Mom, my Dad had been signing the papers and taking the tax relief for years. When my Mom decided that it was against her conscience to take money for an industry that destroys so many lives and families, our tax bill went up—a lot.
During this season in our lives, we were already living on a super tight budget. It wasn’t easy to come up with several hundred dollars extra without making significant sacrifices. Still, my Mom took her stand believing that the price of doing what is right is more important that compromising her beliefs or going against her conscience.
Of course, the cost of my Mom’s decision wasn’t just financial. There was also a relational cost because my Dad thought my Mom’s choice was ridiculous. He said that her little stand wouldn’t change anything. He felt entitled to the tax break and not obligated to do the right thing. Even though he ultimately did pay the higher taxes, he was very unkind to her and tried to change her mind by treating her badly.
To be honest, this price was harder for my Mom than the financial cost. (As women, it’s always hardest to take a stand when the people are the ones mocking and persecuting us). Even still, she couldn’t defy her conscience and participate in something she believed was wrong. Like Moses, she chose to “be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin”. (Hebrews 11:25)
No matter the cost---no matter the price---my Mom chose to take a stand and do what she believed was right in the eyes of God. That is the legacy she left for my brother and I. Following her example, that is what we strive to do.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom’s stand over the past few weeks as so many in the church have been on one bandwagon or another talking about the need to stand for their faith. As I listen to people say things like:
“I’ll stand for my beliefs no matter what the cost.”
“No one will make me betray Jesus or the God’s Word.”
“I’ll go to jail or even die for Jesus before went against what I know is right.”
Call me the cynic in the group, but too often my response to these bold, reactionary statements is “Really???”
Sometimes I feel like repeating the quote from the infamous character Inigo Montoyo when he says, “I do not think that means what you think it means.”
You see, all of my life, growing up in the church, I’ve heard people make bold declarations about their willingness to stand in front of a firing squad rather than deny the name of Jesus. Yet, too often, I’ve seen those same people refuse to stand up and turn off the television when the name of Jesus was obnoxiously being taken in vain. (I know, OUCH!!! That one hurt.)
Please, don’t turn off your computer because you’re offended. I’m not asking you to cancel your cable and subscribe to Pureflix (although the Holy Spirit might ask us all to do this someday). I’m just using this example to make the point that in the first against sin, it’s the little things that kill us.
It’s the small compromises that we’re willing to wink at and ignore.
Cheating on your taxes.
The lie you tell your spouse.
The entertainment choices that “aren’t that bad”. (Exactly how bad does it have to be before we admit that it’s sin?)
Every time we choose to do the wrong thing when we know what is right, we are betraying Jesus and God’s Word. Although most of us may never actually have the opportunity to face a firing squad or imprisonment for the sake of Christ, each day we all face the choice of whether or not we will do the right thing or choose to sin.
That is where we count our cost. Whether or not we’re willing to pay the price determines whether or not we are willing to take a stand for Jesus.
James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
So how do we avoid the sin of not taking a stand?
The first thing we need to do is open ourselves up to the inspection of the Holy Spirit.
Ask Him to shine His spotlight on any and all areas where you are compromising.
In what environments are you prone to deny Christ?
Where are you disobeying God’s Word and compromising?
Is there a stand that you need to take, but haven’t been willing to pay the price?
When He begins to show you these areas, you need to repent and ask Him to forgive you for sinning.
Don’t make excuses or try to explain to God why it isn’t a big deal. Instead, humbly ask God to forgive you for sinning against Him and then ask Him to help you have the courage to change.
Finally, you need to take a stand.
The truth is that you can think about standing, talk about standing, even weep over the fact that you’re not standing, but nothing is going to change until you do the right thing and take a stand.
Do the right thing.
Stop tolerating sin in your life.
Kiss a compromising lifestyle goodbye.
Make the sacrifice and once and for all stand up and do the right thing.
And know that when you do this, you are finally on the right road of actually being the woman God has called you to be and making a difference in this world.
You see, one thing I’ve come to believe is that the church can’t do a thing to change our culture, until we start making the changes that are necessary inside of each one of us.
For my Mom, that meant paying a higher tax bill and enduring unkind treatment from her husband who didn’t agree with her.
For me, it means continuing to pay the higher tax bill every year when temptation calls, “But you could save money if you only compromised….”
For others it means ending their addiction to alcohol.
Some may need to recognize their choice of entertainment really is borderline pornography and turn off the t.v.
Yet others will have to come clean and start being honest ALL THE TIME---not just when it benefits them.
The ultimate question is, “What does it mean for you?”
Where do you need to draw a line in the sand and say, “I’m done compromising? I will stand for Jesus no matter the cost?”
Once you know what it is, are you willing to pay the price and do it?
In the end it isn’t about the rhetoric, the theological debates, or jumping on the latest bandwagon---it’s about getting up every day and saying, I’m going to do what’s right because I believe in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:13