Sharing our sin

Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 21-22, 2 Corinthians 2, Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

Psalm 51:1-15

David had a long and hard fall. He went from being the shepherd boy chosen to be king, the savior of his people who slay the giant, and “a man after God’s own heart”, to an adulterer and murderer. It is hard to picture a fall from grace more pronounced than David’s.

We all fall short of the glory of God throughout our life. We may never commit adultery or murder, but Jesus told us in his sermon on the mount that, You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” And also, I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

The question is not whether or not we sin and fall short of the glory of God. The question is; how will we respond?

Throughout large chunks of my life I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to avoid time with God. I didn’t want the shame and guilt that I knew would accompany time with my father in Heaven because of my unrepented sin. This was a common path for me to walk. Sin, feel the weight of guilt and shame, withdraw from God, repeat.

At other times I would go down a different path in relation to sin issues in my life. Often I would just want nothing more than to minimize the sin in my own life as not that big of a deal. “I mean, look at that guy! I am in pretty good shape compared to him!”

I know I am not alone in this.

Having spent a large chunk of my life in careers where I am mentoring others, I will often ask the question of fellow Christians, “What has your heart captive right now? What sin issue have you been struggling with recently?”

One of the most common answers I hear is pride.

I always want to smile. I can relate. For the longest time, that would have been what I said as well. Pride is a nice, simple, relatable, and comfortable sin to confess. No risk of people viewing me differently because of struggling with pride! In fact they might appreciate my spiritual maturity for realizing my own weaknesses!

We all nod understandingly as Christians when someone says they struggle with pride. “Me too brother, me too.”

It is far more difficult for most of us to say:

“I am unbelievably materialistic. I compare myself to other people constantly and never feel that I will have enough. I will never have the house I desire, drive the car I want to drive, have the body I want to have, etc. I have spent far more time looking at Black Friday ads than time in God’s word over the last week.”

or

“I have been addicted to porn for as long as I can remember and it causes me to view women as objects and I hate myself for it. I lust constantly and I don’t know what to do about it. I have repented of it and sworn it off forever more times than I can count.”

or

“I am constantly gossiping about others. I don’t know why I can’t stop or why I do it, but I find myself frequently speaking negatively about other people when I am unwilling to bring up those same items to that person.”

or

“I can’t stop eating. I know that I am in a self-destructive pattern that is not God honoring in any way shape or form, but when I am stressed, felling down, or struggling with anxiety, I turn to food instead of God. I struggle treating my body like the temple God created it to be and I know it is slowly killing me.”

or

“I think I might be an alcoholic. I might not get black out drunk, but it is hard to remember a week where I didn’t have several beers 4-5 nights or the week or more. I certainly turn to alcohol as an escape instead of turning to God. I worry what path I might be on and where it might lead eventually.”

There is an endless list.

Far easier to tell that Christian friend, “I am struggling with pride.”

I love David’s response today.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

David says, Lord use me. Give me strength, joy and a willing spirit. I want to use this fall to help others. I want to teach others your ways and declare your praise!

An amazing thing happened for me when I started being comfortable calling out every sin in my life, even if they seemed small or insignificant. God was faithful.

The battle was so much easier to fight when embracing the truth that the Holy Spirit truly does reside within us and wants to help if we will simply acknowledge the errors in our ways and ask for help.

I also realized quickly that we all struggle with the same things and that all of the condemnation I feared from other brothers in Christ was not coming. I lived for so long thinking that I wasn’t worthy of love, because I couldn’t seem to form good enough habits! I couldn’t seem to achieve Christ-like perfection! What was wrong with me that I would try and try and try again and year after year I struggled with the same stupid things?

“Don’t worry God, I will figure this out eventually.”

But there was no way I was going to confess what was going on in my life to others. What would they think? I am supposed to have it all together. I have worked hard at being a respected leader and mentor for others. How would people respond?

What I have found over and over again is that there is freedom in living authentically with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I have repeatedly found my fears to be unfounded and simply an attack from the enemy. In fact, when other people see your willingness to kick shame in the teeth and lay your struggles out there, you will find many people immediately want to follow suit. We all desperately want to be known fully and loved fully, baggage and all.

God can do amazing good through us when we are willing to live authentically with others and open up about what is happening in our lives, regardless of whether they are obvious sins like David’s or if they are quiet sins of heart that we would prefer to minimize as small and insignificant. God wants to use our falls to demonstrate his glory and bring freedom to others that have not yet experienced it fully.

David understood this.

So what will your prayer be today about areas you are currently struggling with? Will it be, “Lord, help me overcome this thorn in my side?” Will you be focused on somehow conquering this on your own?

Or will it be like David? Instead of hiding from your sin, will you write Psalms about it? Will you use it help others struggling with the same battle? Will you use it to bring glory to God and sing his praises because of the work he is doing in your life, how far he has brought you, and how he loves you unconditionally even in your sin?

We will all fall short. There is freedom in embracing David’s approach when we do!

Thought to ponder

If a brother or sister in Christ asked you what your current battle is, how would you respond?

 

 

 

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