I used to do this a lot in the past. I don’t know when I stopped doing it. I don’t remember who told me to start doing it. But I used to do it. Then I stopped. Now I’m starting again. When I hear of a Christian’s sin and failure, I’ve been trying to feel my sin, my failures, my frailty and vulnerability to sin. Recently, I heard of a Christian I know who was given over to sexual immorality and the complicated decisions that follow with pregnancy and the option of marriage.
As a pastor for some years now I can’t say I was surprised by sin. But still. I was floored. I was saddened. I was upset with sin. I was upset with the one who fell. I was upset for the partner who sinned against my friend. It hurt. I was concerned for what the local church would do and how the leadership would respond. My fear, sadness, feelings, and passion were aroused.
Then God came. He reminded me of my sin. He reminded me of my sexually immoral thoughts and failures. He reminded me of my stubborn slowness to obedience and change. I recalled my vulnerability to sin and its consequences. I then recounted how many forks in the road I’ve walked and came to the place I am today avoiding such life-altering pains and consequences of sin. And at every fork where it went good instead of bad, the difference was not me, my ingenuity, my wisdom, and my power. It was God’s grace. It was God’s grace that gave me the family where parents feared him. It was his kindness that gave me a church and deep friendships where pursuing Christ and confessing sins was normal. It was God’s grace that picked me up when I sinned against him and stopped me from going deeper than I insanely desired.
So where are my sins now? Where are my weaknesses now? Where have I been stubborn and intentionally lazy in examining myself? And where am I currently failing God? Do I feel the same pain, sadness, outrage, emotion, and anger toward my sin and foolish decisions? I confess that I don’t. I haven’t. But I want to. And God has been teaching me lately, when I hear about the sin or failures of my brothers and sisters, to first examine myself and repent of my own sin. To run to the Christ who was crucified for our sins and now risen and to draw near to God with a cleansed and clear conscience. Then, and only then, am I ready to serve those who are oppressed and rebellious in sin. Time to gospelize.