by Stephen Sanders
Have you ever had someone tell you to, "Just be yourself and everything will work out"? It sounds so simple, doesn't it? "Be Yourself." What does that even mean? After all, if we could simply "be ourselves," then wouldn't the world that surrounds us be a lot different?
I often wonder what friendships would be like if we could simply be who we are inside; to not feel so much pressure to be less or more of an individual than we think we are supposed to be. One thing I've begun to focus on in recent months is being the same person everywhere I am no matter who I'm around, but that's a lot easier said than done.
Don't get me wrong. I realize that none of us are exempt from sin. 1 John 1:8-10 says this: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
Can you see how not dealing with sin appropriately keeps us from being ourselves? Behavior like this causes us to trick ourselves into thinking we are someone who we really aren't. When we ignore or hide sin, it breeds all kinds of issues, not only in us, but also in the body of Christ.
So how should sin be handled? How can you "be yourself?" Well, here are 3 things that will certainly get us going in the right direction: Confession, confrontation, and forgiveness.
We all know that we are supposed to confess our sins to God, but what about confessing our sins to one another? Where does that fit into the picture? The answer lies within James 5:16, which instructs us to, "...confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Why isn't the confession of sins more of a focus in the church today? Shouldn't we be doing this every chance we get if it results in "healing and righteousness?"
Secondly, there is confrontation. Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church..." Notice that this scenario starts with someone taking the initiative to point out the sin. Also notice that this person risks not only putting his friend in an uncomfortable situation but also being humiliated in front of others if he is wrong about his assessment. It's easy to see why the church struggles with this; it's not a simple solution.
Lastly, we have forgiveness. After discussing confrontation and confession, doesn't forgiveness make a lot more sense now? There is a very good reason why Jesus instructed us to forgive, "seventy times seven times " in Matthew 18:22. Jesus knew we were going to be surrounded by sinful people because we live in a sinful world. Rather than avoiding it, we need to be brave enough to be the one who chooses to forgive sin unconditionally and infinitely. Our reaction to sin determines the impact it is able to have on us. Who knows? Our reaction may even be so powerful that it may stop that sin in its tracks before it affects others too!
Intersecting Faith and Life:
I'm totally convinced that this is how we should be handling sin. And since sin is "at enmity with God" then shouldn't we be doing everything we can to remove it from the bride of Christ? Shouldn't this be a primary focus in our lives rather than striving for what we can gain in life? Jesus is waiting for a bride with no blemishes.
Today, just take about 15 minutes and ask God this simple question: "God, how is the sin in my life keeping me from being who you have created me to be?"
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