We fill our calendars with awareness days and months. April, for example, is Autism Awareness Month. April is also home to Earth Day, Construction Zone Awareness Week, Cancer Control Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Counseling Awareness Month, IBS Awareness Month, National Porphyria Week, and National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month. Check out other portions of the year, and you’ll find a similarly full calendar of days, weeks, and months dedicated to raising awareness about one cause or another.
Awareness is an incredibly important step in overcoming any great challenge or problem. Twelve step programs for overcoming major life obstacles often begin with awareness – the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The apostle Paul might word it this way:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
– Romans 12:3
The challenge comes with moving beyond awareness into meaningful action. I can be perfectly aware of a cholesterol problem while I go ahead and order a plate of cheese fries at Outback. I can be perfectly aware of the speed limit while I cruise 15 – 20 mph over it. I can be aware of a suspicious mass while refusing to go to see a doctor. I can be aware of a deadline while procrastinating my way past it. When giving a recent talk about autism awareness at a nearby elementary school, I worded it this way:
Let your awareness take you to new heights as a teacher, for awareness is nothing if it does not motivate us to discover more and do more for the sake of the children we help raise every day.
The same is true of the sin in our lives. We can be aware of the moral challenges we face day in and day out. We can admit to anger issues, problems with porn, bad language or hateful speech, issues with lying, worldly conduct, spiteful attitudes, or long-held grudges; but none of those confessions, none of that awareness, is worth a thing of we continue in those immoral attitudes and behaviors. Remember the words of James:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
– James 1:22-25
We can be aware of the changes God requires in our lives, but that is not enough. My plea to you is this: rise above simple awareness; reach beyond basic acknowledgement. Examine your life. Walk circumspectly, and allow that awareness to push you to new heights as a Christian. Be more than aware of the standard Christ set for us; strive to meet that standard. Yes, the first step to overcoming the challenge of sin in our lives is awareness. We have to admit we have a problem. The next step is to actually do something about it. Be more than aware. Press on to perfection.