I learned quick never to try avoid punishment when my mom was judge and jury. She may be a short little Japanese lady who doesn’t look like much, but as I tell my youth group, if she gave me the option of waiting for my dad to come home for punishment to be administered, I always chose my dad. Bamboo being wielded by a descendant of samurai with a reason to use it is extremely painful. And certainly if my mom caught me at something or found out that I had done something, I never, ever tried to lie about it after the first time I tried that trick. That just made it all the worse. I paid dearly for compounding that initial wrong doing with yet another. Never again.
As I’ve gotten older and matured, I’ve learned the hard way that not facing up to your mistakes just lets them fester and grow worse. Even if there are no other repercussions from the original deed, the dread of wondering if you’ll be caught is painful. And when you are caught, then the loss of trust in those who believed in you is not worth it. It is best to face up to the mistake, to seek out the one who is wronged, and then do whatever it takes to make it right, if such a thing is possible. We are all human. We all falter and fail. Perfection is not possible in our current state. We are redeemed but not completely remade. When it comes to God and our disobedience (sin), this is especially true. It is better to immediately turn to Him in prayer with a broken heart, seeking restoration and forgiveness. Here is an example of how not to do it:
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:8-13, ESV
I often think about how different world history would have been if Adam and Even had come clean. If they had waited for God and then admitted their sin. However, they didn’t, looking first to dodge God, then to dodge His question, and then finally to pass the blame when caught. We know the resulting consequences of their disobedience, deceit, and failure to take accountability for what they had done. And while we can condemn Adam and Eve for all of that, the truth is we’re often guilty of the same. However, by trying to avoid the consequences of our mistakes, and especially of our sins, we only make things worse. We seem not to remember this as we attempt to dodge or conveniently forget our transgressions.
God understands we’re not perfect. That’s why He sent His Son for the sacrifice, the sole sacrifice, for our sins. His blood covers them all. No, we’re not worthy of it. No, we don’t deserve it. That’s why it’s called grace. God chose to reconcile us to Himself. He would prefer that we remain in that condition, unblocked by sin, as much as possible. Let’s face it, being estranged is not good for the relationship. When we choose not to deal with our sin, that’s exactly what we are: separated. While we may have salvation, the fact of the matter is that so long as we choose to hang on to our sin, we’re avoiding contact with the Lord. If the Lord is the only hope of fulfillment and joy in our lives, I mean true joy, the joy that keeps you looking forward even in the darkest of situations, then ultimately we’re only hurting ourselves. The sooner we realize this and instead turn back to God broken and repentant, the better off we’ll be.
As you approach this weekend, take inventory of your mistakes this past week: both towards others and towards God. Take a step the world would consider unbelievable by its standards: going to that person (phone or email is fine is physical contact isn’t possible), admit your wrongdoing, and seek to make it right. When we are sincere in admitting our mistakes and seeking to correct them, we build trust. We build integrity. We build relationship. We build character. Yes, it may be very painful. However, it is better to face the short term pain, no matter how intense, than to take much, much more over a longer period of time. Face up to your mistakes sincerely, humbly, and purposefully and feel the burden of them lifted off of you.