Ceremony Over Love

To avoid ceremonial uncleanness–the Jews did not enter the palace.” John 18:28

The religious rulers carried their pious scruples even to the palace of Pilate. Amazingly, they had no scruples about their wicked treatment of an innocent man–but they were scrupulously conscientious about matters of mere ceremonial requirement! They would not set their feet on the Gentile’s floor–for that would have defiled them! Yet meanwhile their hearts were full of evil and murderous thoughts and resolves!

There will always be people who are most punctilious in their religious rituals–but who in practical life, are little better than heathen!

We should learn well, that God is grieved more by our bitter feelings, our lack of love, our hate and envy–than He is with little omissions in religious ceremonies and formalities.


J.R. Miller from Grace Gems


It is Never Safe to Make Pets of Tigers!

Many people don’t think twice about taking a wild baby animal and raising it.  Most babies, human and non-human, are so cute, who can resist?  I have helped rehabilitate lion cubs that someone thought would be cute to have as pets.  However, they out grew the cute stage and ate large amounts of meat.  You can’t raise a large feline on cheap ground beef!  The poor lions ended up with serious fractures of all four legs due to the poor nutrition.  Can you imagine having four broken legs?

But actually the poor care for the lions was a blessing in disguise.  See someone that knew so little about the care of an exotic wild animal, such that they would be so severely damaged, also doesn’t understand the complexity to raising a wild animal.  Those cute, fuzzy, wobbly kittens, the size of a 6 week Labrador, grow up to be 300 – 600 lbs of pure muscle that reacts on instinct.  They are deadly! 

But what is worse are the lions who have been coddled and babied; loved on, toted around, and walked on a leash like a giant dog, those are downright dangerous creatures.  See they have lost their natural fear and reluctance around humans.  Not only that, they have learned that humans are the source of food!  Since a lion’s instinct is to kill to eat, they don’t understand that distinction too well.  Many people are killed or seriously injured by the wild animals they thought would never harm them.

Our sin is like those exotic animals.  Sin often starts off small and in the case of children maybe even cute.  You’ve seen it before, the parents laughing at a small toddler’s temper tantrum and then giving them what they wanted.  Sometimes with little children it is hard to not find some behaviors cute.  But imagine that behavior in a grown up body!  That temper tantrum that was cute when under two can quickly become deadly.

Or what about our ignoring our own “little” sins? 

That snappy temper?

Those selfish tendencies?

That self-righteous attitude?

It is Never Safe to Make Pets of Tigers!

“Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:5
“Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!” Genesis 4:8

See here, the fearful growth of the evil feeling in Cain’s heart. It was only a thought at first–but it was admitted into the heart and cherished there. Then it grew until it caused a terrible crime! We learn here, the danger of cherishing even the smallest beginning of bitterness; we do not know to what it will grow!

Some people think lightly of bad temper, laughing at it as a mere harmless weakness; but it is a perilous mood to indulge, and we do not know to what it may lead.

“Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you!” In His reproof of Cain, the Lord likens his sin to a wild beast lying in hiding by his door, ready to leap on him and devour him. This is true of all sin which is cherished in the heart. It may long lie quiet and seem harmless–but it is only a wild beast sleeping!

There is a story of a man who took a young tiger and resolved to make a pet of it. It moved about his house like a kitten and grew up fond and gentle. For a long time its savage, blood-thirsty nature seemed changed into gentleness, and the creature was quiet and harmless.

But one day the man was playing with his ‘pet’, when by accident his hand was scratched and the beast tasted blood. That one taste, aroused all the fierce tiger nature, and the ferocious animal flew on his master and tore him to pieces!

So it is, with the passions and lusts of the old nature, which are only petted and tamed and allowed to reside in the heart. They will crouch at the door in treacherous lurking, and in some unguarded hour–they will rise up in all their old ferocity!

It is never safe to make pets of tigers!

It is never safe to make pets of little sins!

We never know what sin may grow into–if we let it abide in our heart!

“Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!” That is what came of the passion of envy in Cain’s heart! It was left unrebuked, unrepented of, uncrushed–and in time it grew to fearful strength. Then in an evil moment, its tiger nature asserted itself!

We never know to what dreadful stature–a little sin may grow!


J. R. Miller from Grace Gems – Cain and Abel


Avoid Every Kind Of Evil

Do you have your own seemingly small “pet” sins?

The sins that maybe one of these days you will deal with but they aren’t a big deal?

You know those days were the children say “Moma needs some coffee or chocolate!”

The days when a slight headache causes everyone to know you are having a bad day.

The “it was OK to be rude, they deserved it” days.

Sin is sin, whether or not we think it is a big deal or not, God does.

Only slightly evil (By J. R. Miller: 1840 – 1912)

Avoid EVERY kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22  

Some professors are accustomed to think of some things as ‘only slightly evil’, while other things are considered as most vile in their eyes.

They appear to think, that if they keep themselves from the worse kind of sins–then they need not be so watchful against the minor forms of evil. They will not lie, nor steal, nor swear, nor do other things which would brand them as ‘wicked’ in the eyes of the community. But meanwhile they are satisfied to be ungentle, unkind, selfish, bad-tempered, and worldly!

But Paul’s exhortation is, “Avoid every kind of evil.” We are not to pick out certain things and condemn these alone as evil, abstaining from them; meanwhile indulging in pet vices and sinful habits of our own. Whatever is sinful in even the slightest way–is to be avoided!

More of these short devotionals can be found at Grace Gems.