It’s always a shock when you hear of someone getting busted in a very public and very humiliating sin. There’s been plenty of that in the news lately.
Initially, if you’re me, all you can think is, “How could that person DO that? What was s/he thinking?”
Later, if you’re me, you start to feel indignant. “That sin is the lowest of the low! It’s even lower than that! How could s/he possibly get up every day, go about their day and pretend to be a Christian, knowing that they were going to be doing THAT at some point in their day? What a hypocrite!
“How could that person be SO SINFUL?”
And then it hits me.
In the eyes of God, I am just as sinful as that person. The sins that I commit every day condemn me in the eyes of God just as much as that other person’s sins, regardless of how heinous those other person’s sins may be in the eyes of the world.
My nasty thoughts, my selfishness, my discontent, my wanting everything to be about MEEEE – is no different than anyone else’s sin. Frankly, most sins boil down to nasty thoughts, selfishness, discontent, and wanting everything to be about me.
How am I any different than that person who just got publicly busted?
Yet, God still loves that person, and he still loves me. He still wants both of us in his family. He wants us in his family so dearly that he humiliated himself to the extent of becoming human (while still being God), living among us sinful humans (without sinning himself), and enduring the worst physical pain that our world could produce, along with incomprehensible emotional and spiritual pain. All to save people that person and me, who are both sin-filled to the core of our existences.
What love! Jesus paints a picture of God’s love for us in the parable of the prodigal son, where the father loves both of his sons with a love that more than forgives all of their offenses. The father wants his sons in his family, and he will go to any lengths to make that happen.
That’s why I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. While it’s necessary and important to acknowledge my sin (because otherwise I have no need for a Savior), I can’t let myself stop there. I need to look to Jesus and his cross for my hope and my joy and my salvation. I need to give my sin to Jesus and allow myself to be forgiven.
And then, I need to have compassion for others who have been brought to that same recognition of their sinfulness, no matter what their sins might be. I need to pray for their repentance, as well as their subsequent restoration to God’s family, just like that prodigal son.
Sin is always shocking and dirty and … sinful. When a hidden sin comes to light, it shouldn’t surprise us with its hideousness. But it’s important to remember that in the sight of God, all sin is equally hideous. In the end, all that matters is faith in Jesus’s redeeming work on the cross, which was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world. No sin is too big for God to forgive. What a relief! What joy! What love!
And if God can forgive all of those heinous sins, then I can forgive those sins, too, whether they directly affected me or not. I can’t help but forgive, especially when I realize how much I have been forgiven.
I may not have been publicly busted like that other person was, but I know that in my heart of hearts, I am only a few steps away from committing a sin just as horrible in the eyes of the world. The famous saying goes, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and it’s absolutely true. We’re all sinners in need of God’s unconditional forgiveness, and thank God that he gives it to us for the sake of Jesus.
What a blessing!