Friend: Um, Michelle. Can I talk to you about something?
Me: Sure, what about?
Friend: Well, remember the conversation we had the other day?
Friend: Remember what you said about Sister Jane?
Friend: I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And I realize now that you were gossiping about her. You told way more than I needed to know, and you worded things so that I’d think poorly of her. You implied that she brought all her hardships upon herself. Next time, I’d much rather pray for people together than gossip about them.
Me: You’re right. I shouldn’t have said those things. Thank you for pointing out my error and restoring me to the truth in a spirit of meekness, as described in Galatians 6:1. If I am wise, I will heed your rebuke. I know that it is an act of love on your part, so, please, keep confronting me with my sin. I need it.
Did you laugh a little when you read this dialogue? Am I right that, while a discussion might start this way, it hardly ever ends this way?
Hmm, whyever not?
First off, nobody likes getting rebuked. Nobody wants to feel incompetent or foolish. Nobody enjoys the pinch of shame. What do we do? We immediately start defending ourselves:
- Everything I said about the person was true!
- You misunderstood me!
- It wasn’t that bad! Other people say way worse!
- What about all of the good things that I say? Don’t those count for something?
- I’m not a bad person!
It’s natural for me to defend myself. It’s a well-rehearsed, well-conditioned response. But, when I do this, I’m attempting to inflate my own righteousness, and, in the process, I minimize Christ’s sacrifice. He died for that sin.
No matter how insignificant I think my sin is, God can’t look at it with the least degree of allowance (Alma 45:16). Even the smallest sins need cleansing. As always, scripture says it best: “Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins” (Alma 42:30).
With God’s help, I want to eventually change my gut reaction.
(But wait. Is it even possible to change my gut reaction? Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” That’s a pretty clear yes to my ears.)
Instead of denying, justifying, and rationalizing my sin, I want to be quick to confess it and ask God to forgive me. I want to rejoice in my weakness (or, at the very least, accept it) because that’s how God’s mercy is perfectly displayed (2 Corinthians 12:9).
If my sin isn’t so bad, then God’s grace isn’t all that wonderful — or necessary. Instead of trying to pretend that I don’t really need mercy, I want to glorify God for it and cling to it for dear life.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.