But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.–Matthew 12:36 NIV
If there’s a scripture that scares the heck out of me, this is the one.
I remind myself I’m forgiven and under grace. The truth is, when I’m giving an account for every careless word I’ve spoken, I’m going to be there a loooong time.
I have what I call moments – moments that cause me to cringe in embarrassment and think –
“What is wrong with me?”
Here is one such moment:
A church I attended was doing a church wide study on money. It was a dvd driven program facilitated by a pastor I respect so I decided to participate.
Group discussion follows the DVD presentation – financial integrity was the topic of the night.
The question presented was, “How have you been dishonest with money?”
The idea is to go around the room and either answer the question or pass – I’m about the eighth or ninth person. Discussion begins and everyone is starting their sentences with people.
“Sometimes people cheat on their taxes.” “Sometimes people keep too much change at the store.” “Sometimes people owe their family money and don’t pay them back.”
I’m getting annoyed. Really annoyed.
The question isn’t how are people dishonest with money, it’s how have you been dishonest with money.
This sweet lady sits to my right and says something like, “I work in a bookstore and sometimes people find a dollar on the floor and instead of turning it in, they keep it. That’s stealing.”
She looks at me with an expectant smile – it’s my turn.
I look at her and say, “I keep the dollar.” Her mouth opens as she looks at me with surprise and shock.
“I don’t remember when, but I’ve kept the dollar. I’m a sinner – a big, big sinner.” Stunned silence.
The facilitator eventually stammers, “yes we’re all sinners – sinners saved by grace. Let’s move on to the next question.”
Then others who know me try to laughingly explain to those who don’t I’m not really a big sinner, I’m just very hard on myself. If they knew me, they’d laugh.
Okay, let me be clear – I am a sinner. I know this because I read my Bible and clearly, I fall short.
Yes, I’m saved by grace and I’m thankful for it because if it were based on my performance, I’d be in trouble.
I long to know and be known – by God and the people I love – this requires honesty and vulnerability.
God already knows the truth – I’m not fooling Him. I don’t know why when I talk about my sin and struggles, people try to convince me it’s okay and God understands.
I know how much I love my own son – I have a hard time believing God would allow His one and only Son to be brutalized and killed for no reason.
By acknowledging my sin and the ways I fall short, I open myself up to receive God’s grace and love.
It’s not a bad thing to acknowledge sin – it’s how I get free.
When I admit I messed up, He lavishes His grace and mercy like salve on a wound.
God isn’t the disapproving, stern eye in the sky. He is Holy and loves His children.
What He calls sin and tells me not to do isn’t to spoil my fun – it’s because He knows these things will destroy my life.
What loving parent approves things they know are dangerous and destructive?
I think that’s why the gospel is called the good news. The bad news is I’m a flawed human bogged down by selfishness, greed and sin – I deserve judgment and death.
The good news, the great news is Jesus came to set me free – He offers another way.
Jesus paid for my sin, redeemed me with His blood and because of His sacrifice, in spite of my words, I receive eternal life.
What does the word “sin” mean to you?