Have you ever noticed the difference that a long, deep breath can make during stressful moments?

The phrase, “Take a deep breath” is almost so overused in our culture that it often means something abstract.

Lately, God has made me more aware of the breath—or moment—before I sin.

When we were young—both as children and as new Christians—sinning came so natural to us that we often sinned without even realizing it. Our language, our attitude, and our behavior were so in-tuned with our sinful desires that we did it without thinking. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, we indulged before we even had a second to consider otherwise.

However, as we grow in wisdom through Jesus Christ, learn more about God, His righteousness, and our sin, and mature in our faith, God gently guides us toward holiness. Through conviction we recognize our shortcomings. We learn lessons from the consequences of our sin.

The more like Jesus we become and the more we seek His face, the clearer our sin becomes to us. God places distance between us and sin through His son. We feel Christ in us, and we see our sin as something different than who we were made to be—righteous in His sight.

In my life, and maybe in yours, God often gives me a breath before sin. Instead of instantly committing the sin the way I did as a child, I now notice that there is a pause for choice.

                        Will I indulge or will I cling to righteousness?

Sometimes the pause is very brief, especially if it is a sin with which I struggle. Lately, I struggle with impatience and anger, specifically toward my children, and more specifically, in the middle of the day when the house is a disaster, I’m exhausted, the boys are cranky, and my husband is working late.

My oldest son will push his brother or my youngest son will throw his food all over the floor. I often resort right back to my childish ways and lash out with my language, attitude, and behavior. The more God convicts me of this sin, though, the more evident my breath before the sin becomes.  I am slowly learning to use that breath—though very brief (for now)—to inhale His righteousness, rather than to fall into sin.

Sometimes the pause before the sin is a bit longer. I struggled, for a time, with dishonesty. I allowed Satan to fill the moment before I actually committed the sin with things like reasons, excuses, rationalizations, and fear.

Satan left no room for me to inhale righteousness, and I didn’t give God a bit of space to intervene. Thankfully, through prayer, accountability and encouragement from others, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that sin became more evident to me. The destruction it caused put me at odds with family, friends, and God.

As I sought His grace, God put more and more distance between my heart and the temptation to sin. Now, when I am faced with the choice to be dishonest, I have so much time to “breathe” and really consider the costs, remember the consequences, and seek the Lord’s guidance, that I no longer find dishonesty so appealing.

God can take even the most overpowering sins in our lives and turn them into righteousness for His good.  We were made to be holy, just like Jesus. As we grow in our relationship with God, He will continue to mold us into who He wants us to be.

            For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. –Ephesians 1:4-8

As our struggles and sins become more apparent to us, may we be proactive with all of our moments, and make the choice to seek Jesus, who is stronger than all our sin. Go ahead and take a deep breath!