By: Sarah Oates-Walker
Throughout my teen and early young adult years, I decided to go my own way. During those years I made many bad choices, and accumulated many regrets and a lot of shame. When I finally turned back to Jesus, oh how I loved to sing this chorus!
“My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
(It is Well With my Soul–by Horatio G. Spafford)
What a wonderful newfound freedom! The weight of my sins was truly lifted, and I knew that my past had been forgiven. For much of my Christian walk, whenever I thought about my sin, I would really only think of things from my past. Then, during one Sunday morning service, my husband (a pastor and preacher) gave us this challenge:
“If you honestly can’t list several sins that you struggle with, then you are lying to yourself!”
When I heard this statement I thought, “Whoa, really???” As I sat there during Communion, pondering what I needed to ask forgiveness for, nothing came to my mind. I could list many sins that I needed forgiveness for from before I found Jesus. But, I had already repented of this. I had been a “good Christian girl” for several years. I was not struggling with any “BIG” sins like I had been before I met Jesus. I knew that I was far from perfect, but compared to where I was before, I was having trouble imagining what I needed to confess. It is not that I wasn’t struggling with sin issues at this time, but because the current sins were much more subtle, they were harder to notice.
As I started a “prayer notebook” (created by Gina Garland). Every day I pray, “Lord. examine my heart and reveal my sinful ways. Make me sensitive to my sin, and quick to repent.” Within the first few weeks of saying this prayer, I had written down over 10 things that I regularly struggle with. To name a few, I found myself in moments of being judgmental, prideful and mean. How funny that before, I could barely list one thing, and now I can rattle off more than enough to work on! Just because I don’t struggle with what some might consider BIG sins, I was starting to think that I had it all together.
1 John 1:7-9 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
How easy is it for us who have been in church for a long time to not notice our sinfulness. And I know from experience, it is so easy to become ungracious and judgmental towards others when we fail to notice our own sinful ways. When I was first saved I was so thrilled to be forgiven from all the BIG sins I had walked in. My sin was so apparent at that time, but as I moved on from the BIG sins of the past, my present struggles were harder to notice. They were subtle – the judgmental attitude, the inner pride – but they were there.
Can you list several sins that you struggle with? Are you courageous enough to ask God everyday to show you your faults? It is has been a humbling exercise. It has caused me to sing “It Is Well” with the vigor of newfound faith. It has once again brought me to my knees, and it has reminded me to be gracious and merciful to everyone.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
To quote my wonderful husband again, “I need to be very gracious and merciful to others, because I need God to show ME a lot of mercy!” I am so thankful that I serve a God who is a merciful judge, and that all sins, BIG and “small” are equally forgiven when we ask!
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9