But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. (Hosea 12:6)
The word "maintain" shows up in the NIV 21 times. It's not a super-important word. But as I've been studying this idea of confession and repentance, maintaining a lifestyle that would have no need for confession sounds like a pretty good way to go.
It's like cleaning my house, which I'm horrible at doing. Because I can spend one day swiffering, magic erasering, doing laundry and putting the clothes away, washing the dishes, and even sorting the mail.
And 24 hours later it's all gone to seed.
Because.... I don't maintain it. I'll be honest. I'm really terrible at maintaining a tidy house. I've used this example before, where you can put one dish in the sink and it's ok, but a week later a sinkful of dirty dishes is going to be quite nasty, and a big huge pain in the butt to clean.
When ironically the 35 seconds it would take to wash my one morning bowl of cereal before it gets crusty just seems "too hard" for me sometimes.
But look at your spiritual life this way. Yes it's hard to avoid all temptation. Yes it's hard to stay sexually pure in whatever situation you're in. Yes it's hard not to spread that little bit of gossip. Yes it's hard to say no to the extra helping of ice cream.
But what happens after you give in "just this once?" Do you give in "just one more time" and "just one more" and "this is my last one I swear"?
And suddenly your pants are too tight and you've got 34 empty Ben & Jerry's pints in your garbage can.
And losing the weight is a looot harder than putting it on, isn't it? (Note how I went for the safe sin of over-indulging, and not the sexual/STD/pregnancy one)
So here's the deal. I think we have to consider expanding our mathmatical equation that I created in my Jesus Math post. That equation is Confession + Repentance = Forgiveness. And that's the basic one, the one we should all remember. But I wonder if we can do this:
(Confession + Repentance) + Maintenance = Forgiveness + Peace
Because isn't your life a little less hectic when you're keeping on the right path day after day? Yes you have to spend that 35 seconds every morning washing out your cereal bowl. But that saves you from having to spend 20 minutes at the end of the week scrubbing off the crusty cereal.
I haven't even managed Confession and Repentance well. But let's all try to do this thing, Ok? And if we're going to do it, we should do it right.
Lord God I ask you to forgive me for thinking that I could ever take the easy way out, the one-time forgiveness. Please help me to see when I need to confess and repent of a sin, and please also grant me the ability to maintain right living after I have received that forgiveness, that I would not find myself back in the same place, asking you for forgiveness again. Amen.