Last Friday, I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for my bus to go to work and I have noticed that many of the older people who live in my building, congregate at the bus stop to smoke. I think many of them have done it for so long that they don’t even realize that there is a sign that clearly forbids smoking.
Another thing that is so annoying is that few will even ask if the smoke bothers anyone else. So even though I may have been sitting there minding my business and waiting for my bus, I usually end up having to move because someone always starts smoking with no consideration for anyone else.
So, last Friday, someone started smoking and I got up and another man asked me if my bus was coming and I let it be known that I was moving away because of the cigarette smoke. As I stood and waited on the bus, I heard the smoker tell everyone at the bus stop that everyone was trying to get him to stop smoking. But he was adamant that he was not going to stop. He had been smoking since he was 10 years old and he said it was his only vice. I would put his age at between 75-80 years of age, so in his mind there was absolutely no reason for him to stop smoking now.
As I listened to him it was eye-opening. The warnings about cancer and emphysema and all the bad things that could happen to him meant nothing. After smoking for 60 plus years, there was no reason to change. He probably did not care if he died.
The man only walked with a cane and although I know nothing about his health issues he sounded like he did not believe that smoking was a problem. It was enlightening.
But isn’t that like most of us. If we don’t see a problem with our sin we won’t change. We often don’t change unless we see a reason to. And sadly, it often ends up being something negative that forces us to change.
I don’t want to be like that man. As a Christian we should desire to grow in grace and let go of our sins and anything that hinders us from serving and hearing God. It shouldn’t take consequence to sin to make us change. It should simply be the Word of God that motivates us to change.
There are areas in my life that God has been speaking to me about for years. I am starting to put more prayer on those areas because I WANT to change. I am smart enough to know that there will be consequences if I don’t.
The man at the bus stop may not know it, but he may have already shortened his life. Or he may end up spending his last days suffering for years of smoking. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t want to be forced to change. I want to change because it pleases God. No more excuses. It’s time to change.
By the way, the smoker got up from the bus stop and apologized to me. He said he didn’t know that the smoke bothered me. I told him it was okay. I guess it never occurred to him that he was affecting those around him.
Colossians 3:5-14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
5 So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. 6 Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], 7 and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ]. 8 But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self— 11 a renewal in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, [nor between nations whether] [b]barbarian or [c]Scythian, [nor in status whether] slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all [so believers are equal in Christ, without distinction].
12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; 13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. 14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].