Delilah Sins

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Don’t say anything that would hurt [another person]. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29 God’s Word Translation

I’m home again from my trip out to Seattle where I spent 4 nights with my mother-in-law.  I decided to travel sooner than I had planned because she seemed to need some encouragement and company.  A few health setbacks had recently plagued her and she sounded sad and lonely on the phone.

Five days before arriving, I had hurt her during a Zoom call when I brought up a couple of subjects, asking her pointed questions meant to hurt her and make me look superior.   Cousin Terry, who knows my heart only too well, calls it ‘being imperial’. She suggested apologizing to my mother-in-law when I arrived.

Within 20 minutes of being welcomed into her apartment, I did just that. I told Mom how sorry I was for deliberately hurting her.  She apparently hadn’t noticed during that Zoom call, or so she said.  But I pressed the issue so she would know that what I had said was UNKIND and that the Holy Spirit had leaned on me hard in the days that followed.  I confessed how sorry I was for hurting her.  Then I asked her forgiveness.  She responsive hug brought me relief, that sense of being washed clean and separated from my sin.

During the 4 days with her, God gave me several occasions to notice and not to succumb to my decades-old tendency to bring up a topic with the intention of criticizing one of her viewpoints. The prime test came when together we viewed her church’s Sunday service, streamed on You Tube. I knew that several girlfriends (thank you Joyce, Jill, Frances, Cousin Terry and others) as well as Mike were praying for me to cultivate a heart of kindness to source my words.

What startled me was noticing the obvious places, where up until this week, I would have initiated a comment meant to put down something she said and/or to point to how ‘wise’ and knowledgeable I was about the topic. Instead, I kept my mouth shut. 

What I did do, for a change, was to look for something positive I could respond with when she made a comment.  For example, when she praised the young deacon who gave the homily during the service, I simply said: “Yes, he enunciated well (through the mask) and spoke with clarity about the topic.”

I realize now that Mom is not someone who asks me for my opinion or viewpoint.  She’s not curious that way.  I cringe thinking of the countless times I have offered my views, unbidden.

What cemented this lesson in choosing words meant only to bless and help others came from what I read in a book from Joyce, Watchfulness: Recovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline.

In the section I read only three days ago while still in Seattle, the author describes ‘Delilah Sins’.  These are those evil habits that we cherish, that we love to indulge in. It didn’t take me long to articulate my # 1 Delilah Sin, that of provocation.

I have been a ‘provocatrice’ for as long as I can remember. 

I am SO glad that the Lord has finally intervened before it’s too late.  NOW is the time for me to kill this practice. This temptation has for far too long promised a moment of delightful satisfaction….only to leave me UN-satisfied and feeling ‘sour’.

I praise God that for the first time, I actually feel a new desire growing, one where I keep my viewpoints to myself unless asked.  Now, I want to use my words simply to give help and hope.  Looking back over my life, I see clearly that the majority of my words have often been unnecessary and many times meant to make Maria look good, not Christ.  Thank you, Lord, for your gift of new mercies.

Battling to keep walking with the Truth


Jesus proclaimed: ‘I am ..the Truth’. Aren’t you glad that Truth is a person who takes a very intimate interest in each of us, His brothers and sisters? Without Him, we would never be able to withstand our enemy, that liar who seeks to discourage us by attacking God’s Word.  Our greatest daily, if not hourly, temptation that we must resist is our bent toward doubting God.

In these two reflections, I describe two types of suffering that accompany our difficult calling to believe Jesus.


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NASB

I have a sweet friend eager to be with Jesus.  Days dark with death exhaust her. Her son’s marriage is dying and she lives with him and his wife.  Another son’s own son is in jail for murdering a man.  Somber and sobering shadows press in on her.

But the darkness is passing. Her Savior, Jesus, the good Shepherd is walking with her through the dying. She doesn’t dwell there.

King David, too, suffered the death of relationships and dreams.  And King Jesus led him back into the light. David never forgot the comforting presence of this Shepherd.  He felt the guiding, bounding presence of rod and staff, until relief came on the other side. Do you suppose he was able to trust His shepherd, having been one himself?

Joy returned including feasting and fellowship when God restored his rule.  Prophetically and with bracing frankness, he proclaimed that as good as temporary relief can be, what awaited him AND us is permanent joy and love forever.

My friend needs to cling to this truth, as do we.


Fight the good fight of faith 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB

Mike and I have been rewatching The Lord of the Rings.  So, when I read this chapter today, ‘The Last Battle’ lingered in my mind.

What if you and I woke up daily fully expecting another day of warfare? Isn’t that what Paul is teaching?  Most assuredly, there are many possible conflicts in life, but they are worthless compared to this one.  What is our one major conflict? The fight for our faith.  The ongoing struggle to trust Jesus.

As long as our enemy persists, we must engage in daily war. Satan’s primary objective continues – to cause us to doubt God’s word.

What should Christians expect, then?

In God’s good providence, He plans daily battle training to strengthen us.  Furthermore, we should prepare for enemy skirmishes, probing our resolve.  Occasionally, frontal assaults test us. And some of us will be engaged in a lifetime-long war. Think ‘The Hundred Years War’.

If we go to bed still trusting God, then we can celebrate the victory. Restorative sleep prepares us for another day to fight, divinely equipped.

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