Sunday, July 22 @ 4pm – Fever of 100.2 F. No significant change in mood or behavior. Slightly fussy. Maybe teething.
Monday, July 23 @ 7:30am – No fever. Overall happy and normal behavior.
Monday, July 23 @ 1:30pm – Woke up from afternoon nap with dry cough. Has raspy voice. No fever.
Monday, July 23 @ 7:45pm – Trouble sleeping. Dry, barking cough. No fever. Still has raspy voice. Seems uncomfortable.
It was at this point that my wife, Tina, became more concerned about our 18-month-old and googled “toddler got a sudden raspy voice”. (We didn’t just happen to remember this. I actually checked our online search history.) After clicking on a few links and adding other symptoms to her search, she was able to make her “WebMD” diagnosis. Lucas had croup – an upper airway infection that produces the infamous cough that sounds like an excitable seal during feeding time at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Now, I am sure that you can relate to my wife’s experience of online symptom checking. It is a gift to have such a wealth of medical knowledge at our fingertips. It helps us to be more educated and better understand how we might treat the different ailments and illnesses we experience. When we notice symptoms, we can determine the cause and then proceed to research how to treat or cure the sickness.
But, what if I told you that the Word of God provides a similar symptom checker to help us diagnose what is going on in our own hearts and the hearts of those in our church body?
The “works of the flesh” list and the “Fruit of the Spirit” list in Galatians 5 helps us identify what is controlling our hearts and desires throughout the day. Are you envious of someone else and their abilities, appearance, or financial standing? Did you snap at your kids this morning because they just got on your last nerve? If you answered yes, then your “croup-y” sin nature is in control. On the flip side, if there have been moments today where you acted out with a joyful, peace-filled, patient, kind, entirely good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled love – then the Holy Spirit was your leader and enabler.
However, simply noticing symptoms and correctly diagnosing the problem does not lead to recovery. We need treatment. We need medicine. We need a cure.
In John 5:31-32, Jesus tells the Pharisees and the scribes this: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus, our Great Physician, calls to us daily through His Spirit that He is the treatment. He is the medicine. He is the cure. He came to bring health to our sickly, spiritual condition.
Be careful though as you read this blog post. If you read those verses in John and thought, “well that is a comforting message for the sinners reading this. I really hope ‘so-and-so’ reads this. I bet they will need this message today.” If this is you, you miss what Jesus is saying. Jesus is telling us that until you recognize you need a physician, you can not have Him. Until, you see your sin, then Jesus will be of no use to you. Who needs a Savior when there is nothing needing to be saved?
Therefore, it is an act of grace when the Holy Spirit helps us to identify the “works of the flesh” in our own lives or the lives of others in the church. In this moment of conviction, we must never tell ourselves or someone in the church to just “stop sinning”. That would be like telling my son, Lucas, to just “stop coughing”. The only remedy to cure our sinful infection is through the Gospel (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). This was true at your conversion. This is true right now as you read this. And this will be true until the Lord calls you home.
So, let us walk today with steps of repentance and faith. Confessing that we need the Physician and then immediately believing in the Good News of Jesus Christ. And as we do that together as a church through the Holy Spirit, the infection will slowly lose its grip on our lives. We will start breathing easier. We will notice ourselves coughing less and less all over each other. We will start feeling healthy. And we will praise the One who brought us into His doctor’s office, gave us the sobering news of our condition, and then showed us how He was going to make it all better.