Ezra 9:2-4
“They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.”
Ezra was appalled at the shocking report he had received: The leaders of the Israelite remnant had taken wives from the heathen nations around them!  This doesn’t seem like a big deal from a human perspective. After all–they were probably ‘in love’, and there couldn’t be any harm in just following their heart…right? What’s the big deal?!
The big deal was that God had given them principles to live by, and this was a specific and direct violation of the word of God. They were instructed not to intermingle with those of the nations around them who served other gods.
This remnant of the Israelites were those who had previously been taken into captivity, and God had just miraculously brought them back to their promised land, to begin restoring the nation of Israel. These people were walking in the blessing, grace, and favor of God.  Unfortunately, they wanted to continue enjoying the blessings and grace of God…while making ungodly decisions to suit their own desires.  This lack of integrity is what shocked Ezra to his core–that they would so blatantly abuse the grace of God, and use it as a license to continue their own sinful desires. God’s grace is never given as a license to continue sinning. God’s grace is given, to empower us to walk in freedom away from the sin which once enslaved us! 
I need to see sin through God’s eyes. Not through the lens of my own desires, preferences, and logic–but through the lens of God’s word. It doesn’t matter if I can rationalize ‘why’ I should be able to do something…if God said ‘no’, then the answer is ‘no’.  I need to keep my heart close enough to God, that deviation from His word would be appalling to me!  Instead of trying to see how far I can go and still be covered by grace, I need to be grateful enough for God’s grace to see how close to Him I can walk.
As I interact with the world around me, I need to let God’s word guide my interactions. Just because someone else is a believer and can rationalize their actions…doesn’t mean that their actions are right and godly. There is a place for me to take a godly stand against sin in the body of Christ, and stand firm on the principles of God’s word.
This week, I need to walk with integrity in grace–not trying to see how far it will stretch, but rather trying to see how much like my savior I can grow. I need to see sin through God’s eyes, and allow the things that shock Him, to shock me also. I need to take a stand for what is right–not for the purpose of shaming and condemning people, but for the purpose of turning people back to the foundation on which we stand.
God, thank you for your patience with me! Thank you for your grace and your forgiveness. Please help me to never use your grace as an excuse to keep sinning, or abuse your forgiveness by continuing to do the things from which you have already freed me!
Transform my mind, so that I would be shocked by the things that shock you. Give me the boldness and courage to stand firmly on your word, and point people back to you in all that I do.
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