Reading another blog recently, I was struck by the openness and honesty of the author. They were describing their own struggles with sin over the past year, and I actually found it quite refreshing to hear. Not that sin should be celebrated you understand, but rather we all struggle and yet few of us talk about it.
We all want to put on our best face to other people, and so rarely share anything that might make us look bad. Social media can amplify this, giving us glimpses of only the best bits of life. It was once said that social media is life through a very fine filter.
As a result of this lack of openness, we sometimes find ourselves feeling like the only one in the world struggling with one issue or another. Or am I alone in that? I hope not!
The devil loves to make us think we are alone in our battles. If he can fool us into thinking no one else is facing such things, then he can trick us into thinking we are worse than everyone else around us.
If you are in any form of ministry, be it pastoring a church or writing a blog, this problem can be all the worse. Those in ministry should stretch for higher standards. I often wrestle with the following verses from James’ letter:
Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. Anyone who doesn’t stumble in word is a perfect person, able to bridle the whole body also.James 3:1-2 (WEB)
Heavier judgement, as rendered in this translation, does not sound all that fun! Why make the test harder than it needs to be right? Why bother to teach at all?
For those called to do so, it is an occupational hazard! Once you have discovered your call, you can no more ignore it than you can stop your own heart beating.
If I say, I will not make mention of him,
or speak any more in his name,
then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary with holding it in.
I can’t.Jeremiah 20:9 (WEB)
Not to speak of the Lord was not an option for Jeremiah. For those called to share the Gospel, they cannot cease to proclaim the truth either.
So, teachers are teachers, and subject to “heavier judgement.” The issue is that this can lead to an almost false persona. We want the people we are teaching to think well of us. We incorrectly believe that if they really knew us, then they would cease to listen to what we have to say.
As a teacher, you need to be able to demonstrate some measure of success in your subject. I do not go around teaching the finer points of plumbing because I know not the difference between a U-bend and a stopcock! If I cannot demonstrate that I know the Bible and can put its teaching into practice, then my instruction will have little power behind it.
Does this mean we can never be open? No, of course not! No one is perfect, least of all me, and we cannot and should not expect perfection from our teachers. I actually think more highly of someone who is open about their struggles than those who claim to have none at all.
John says in his first letter:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9 (WEB)
We know that when confessing our sins to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. It goes on to say that if we claim to be without sin, we are deceiving ourselves and making God out to be a liar.
So, do you need a time of confession? Not everyone should write a blog and tell the world of their shortcomings, but tell a trusted friend.
For me, I am constantly wrestling with pride. I confess to you, trusted reader, that I have myself on my mind far too often! When I get scared, it is because I am thinking of myself. When I get angry, it is because someone or something has interrupted my plan. When I get tired, I forget my priorities and end up living to please myself and not the Lord. All of these issues stem from pride. It is part of why I believe God is steering me towards studying the subjects of meekness and humility at the moment.
I am far from perfect, and make mistake after mistake at times. What I find really frustrating is the cycle of sin I find it hard to escape from. I fight against one temptation, beat it for a while, then slip back. Can you relate?
I could write a thousand more words about my faults, but not sure how interesting a read it would be! The point is, I confess to you that I live in the world, I have a flesh to grapple with, and there is a real-life enemy to contend with. It is the same for you.
Do you need to set aside some time for a “spiritual bath?” Need you sit down with Jesus and talk through some of your own struggles and sins? Is there a trusted person in your life you can speak to and confess your sins to?
I praise and thank God for the cleansing work of His Son! Jesus’ shed blood on the cross means that every sin is covered. As long as we live on this Earth, we will wrestle with sin. But we must keep fighting! Only when we give up and give in, are we truly defeated.
Let me finish by reminding you that you are not alone. No matter what sins you wrestle with, there is someone else going through the exact same thing. You are not alone! Only by each of us being honest about our failings can we reassure one another and offer each other support.
Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other. And let each of us rejoice in Christ’s finished work that we may go free! Praise His Holy Name!