The word is short, mocked and unwelcome in our day. In fact, for some time now, we have done our best to erase it entirely. Even when viewing blatantly wicked behavior, it is rarely identified as the source of our troubles. But the three letters spell out a universal problem ~ sin.
Critics of that word have taken to labeling anyone who dares to use it as judgmental, but facing a condition clearly defined by God isn’t judgment; it’s wisdom. God’s Word is living and active. It is knowledge and truth freely given so that we may live lives blessed with peace and liberty.
If we’re honest, we would probably all confess our tendency to magnifying the faults of others and minimize our own. Pride makes excuses and that is a result of, well ~ you guessed it ~ sin. It’s a burdensome thing but, like it or not, we are forced to confront it daily as part of the human condition.
There is something deep within us that wants things to be made right, yet, too often, we’re guilty of thinking that will happen when the other person gets his act together. The real problem is we all fall short of God’s righteousness and we’re prone to excuse behaviors that step over His good boundaries.
God doesn’t wink at sin the way we do. We need only to look at the cross of Christ to see just how serious a matter it is. Mankind violated God’s holy standards to such an extent that our relationship with the Giver of Life was utterly broken. And yet Divine Love was not willing to leave us in such a hopeless state. So came Jesus with His offer of forgiveness. Each one must accept or reject the offer and that should be reason enough to make us realize that “I” is at the center of sin.
The 7th Chapter of Matthew records words of Jesus that urge us to take an “I” exam. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, wasn’t weighing His words. He never did. The One who came to break the power of sin was himself sinless perfection and Perfect Love speaks truth plainly.
Those words pierce us because they confront our tendency to rush to the faults of others before exploring the faults in ourselves. We categorize sin. Yes, some people do horrendously bad things, but that doesn’t lessen our faults before a Holy God. Still, it somehow rubs us the wrong way to think that sin is weighed on a single scale. We want a different set of measures. After all, someone who helps himself to a few small company supplies can’t compare to someone who embezzles millions of dollars from stockholders. An occasional peek at pornography isn’t on the same plain as those involved in sex trafficking. Sharing a little gossip isn’t as damaging as the slander practiced in media and political circles. And that bitterness harbored against someone who has wronged us is nothing compared to someone who has committed murder. At least that’s how we see it; until we open God’s Word, where the true standard of righteousness is magnified.
- Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.” (Period)
- Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Jesus’ words)
- Leviticus 19:16 “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.”
- 1 John 3:15 “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
The truth is, when we look close enough we see just how pervasive sin really is. Facing it is tough and the battle to overcome it is fierce. If you doubt that, consider what Jesus endured to defeat it on our behalf. No one is exempt. No one can overcome the curse of our condition except through Christ, the Savior.
The nail-pierced hands that have rescued countless believers from the bonds of sin, holds out the same offer of salvation to those who are yet in sin’s grip. But make no mistake, once we know Him, we are not called to remain silent in confronting evil. We have been instructed to share the whole truth of the Gospel because it is the power unto salvation. To do less would contribute to the suffering and destruction sin brings and we, who have been redeemed, know its pain. It is out of full surrender and humble commitment to the authority of God through Christ that we proclaim truth in love.
It seems a tall order for flesh and blood, but we are not alone. Jesus promised the power of His Holy Spirit would be ours ~ if we humble ourselves, confess our sin and commit to seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. That is possible because an exchange was made at the cross. God’s Son for our sin. The selfish rebellion of “I” was defeated by The Christ who offered His covering of righteousness to all who would receive Him. Unless we see ourselves as we are, through the light of His love and the mercy of His sacrifice, we will be powerless to help others.
I keep a magnifying glass in a drawer near my Bible. It’s a great reminder to check for planks in myself. There are times when its uncomfortable, but that’s OK because I want others to know Jesus rightly.