A couple of weeks ago, I began a pretty good message about a thought I had concerning the parable of the seeds and the ground. It would have involved an attempt to prick the hearts of those who say, “I’m a good person, that should be enough for God.” A noble thought on my part, for sure. But before I went down to type, I saw Proverbs 26:12:
Pro 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
And I said to myself, I need some self-examination before I give a message on anything, boyo. So I tried to give just a hint of the message, to which I’d suddenly append, “But here’s the thing, “ and then put in my own confession.
Kinda like I’m doing here.
But then, I soon found myself typing out the whole first idea, and telling myself, I’m just setting up for the real message. Five or six paragraphs- ooops!- into this attempt, with my conscience doing battle with my intentions, my son showed up, I said, “See, God TOLD YOU not to do it this way,” and put it aside. After “saving “ what I had written, of course.
Since then, I’ve been weighing subsequent messages I’ve heard in my mind. One was about that “secret sin” that we all have, that we keep aside from God and pay lip service in our confessions, because we”know” we’ll end up going back to it, as if God gives us a mulligan on that one thing. I’ve been “giving” my version of this sin to God for years; but I realize that if I want God to use me effectively, I’ve got to get serious about giving it to Him. Net result? About 4 days of success.
I think about Whitney Houston here, because the topic, “Why is everyone blaming her death on Bobby Brown”, keeps coming up. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to realize that the path she was on was of her own choosing; Bobby Brown likely never did more than encourage her on that path, and if not him, there’d have been another. Because the ultimate decisions on the life she chose to live was hers. I don’t think that it is coincidental to her moral compass at the time that her first hit was Saving All My Love For You, the ultimate expression of the opposite of good and decent and marriage, a song I constantly change to “I’m Just A Big Ol’ Slut, It’s True”. If that’s not an irony enough, I keep looking over to the verse just before the one I printed at the start here:
Pro 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
Am I condemning Whitney here? Not my job. But I have to point out that 26:12 points out that if I publish that first message I talked about without looking at my own life first, I’m worse off than she was/is.
Today I heard a message whose crux point was that to ask for forgiveness, we have to do it in a way that emulates David’s plea to God over the Bathsheba incident. And that starts with “Recognizing the sin the way GOD SEES IT.” The message then went on to look at just how God does see it, and it doesn’t involve our rationalizations, our statutes of limitation time-wise, or our estimation on if anyone got hurt by it, or the deserving-ness of whoever got hurt.
So I went to prayer in that mindset, and the first thing I realized is that I don’t have the first grip on what my sin means to God. David looked at it in Psalms 32 at 3 levels. The first is “sin”, which means an offense. Doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? The second is “iniquity”, which means perversity, or moral evil; a bit darker there, huh. Add in the fact that both translations involve the concept of punishment being involved. The third word David uses is “Transgression”, which at its core means revolt against God.
I don’t know about you, but while my mind usually looks at confession from a “sin” point of view, and occasionally from an “iniquity” level if what I’m confessing is “bad enough”, I don’t often find myself looking at it seriously from the “transgression” level. Thus I’m learning that the first part of any confession is going to have to be a prayer to see my failings from God’s perspective, and not my own.
And that original message? Maybe I’ll share it to someone who feels they need to hear it. But if I’m going to do Sunday messages in the future, I’m going to have to use Proverbs 26:12 to remind me that God gave me this pulpit not to necessarily remove the splinter from your eye, but to discuss the removing of the plank from mine.