Recently, when I asked God what He wanted me to be working on right now to look more like Him, I sensed Him say: Humility & Gentleness.
Panicking and defeated, I prayed, “I can’t do that on my own, I have no idea where or how to start.”
And in true God fashion, when we submit things over to Him, He gently assures that “I will do it for you.”
Nothing quite humbles you into gentleness like hurting someone when you confess your sins against them and try to repent of those things.
In many of my blogs I confess that I manipulate how I present my sin to others. I only give a small picture of the bigger issue, so that it seems like I have it under control and as though it’s not “that bad.” I do this out of fear and shame. I am so terrified of confessing who I really am to the world, that I withhold everything and only give parts of myself.
By doing this, I have a very small picture and understanding of the Resurrection and Gospel. I don’t trust that the Lord has covered ALL my sins. I don’t trust that I will be forgiven completely. I don’t trust that having the strength to be disciplined is worth the obedience for His glory.
Knowing I do this, and after a series of events that caused me to be ready to deal with my sin in it’s full capacity, I listened to two incredible Francis Chan sermons about “The Danger of Tolerating Sin” and “Character vs. Reputation.” They were phenomenal, I highly recommend them.
Chan is going through the letters to the churches in Revelation, where God is very clearly telling the churches what He does and does not like about what they are doing.
Revelation 2:18-29 is to the Church in Thyatira. The Lord first states that He loves their love, faith, service, and perseverance. However, they tolerate sin amongst them by a woman who misleads the Lord’s servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. God says:
“I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.”
Chan goes on to say that the Lord is a patient God and He withholds His wrath, but at some point, His warnings expire and He will repay the sins against Him if there is no repentance.
This struck me, because by not fully dealing with my sin, I am avoiding repentance and possibly missing the warning signs of God saying, “Repent so I can forgive.” The longer I am unwilling, the closer I get to His wrath and the farther away I get from my relationship with Him. By not seeking to repent, I am killing the reputation of Jesus Christ, because what do my actions say about the Lord my Savior if I am unwilling to fully submit all my actions to Him so that others might know Him?
One of the final things Chan said about this passage was: “If you really loved someone, would you really cause them to act in such a way that is offensive to God?”
How selfish are we that actions we claim as “love” are actually an offense to the Lord and our own bodies as temples?
In Revelation 3:1-6 God writes to the Church in Sardis and says:
“I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!”
Chan explains that our Character is more important than our Reputation. Our reputation is what others think of us based on the outside. Our character is who we really are on the inside. Just like social media, we only put our highlight reel on display. But what is going on behind the scenes is in the dark and hiding. Unless, our Character is so strong on the inside it shines forth into who we are on the outside. But how many of us are in hiding? Pretending everything on the inside is completely perfect and fine so we can maintain our reputation on the outside?
For example, today I posted a silly picture of my family on Instagram celebrating Mother’s Day together. But what you don’t see behind the scenes, is the heartbreaking night I had last night as I confessed my sins and repented to someone who it affected.
Last night was the first time I’ve ever done that – confessed my sins out of repentance, being completely aware I did not deserve forgiveness or grace from that person, and terrified I would lose them.
But it was also the first time I felt the peace in knowing the Resurrection is bigger than my sins. By choosing repentance and confession, no matter how painful the heartbreak, I understood I was choosing God in the Light over choosing to hide in the darkness. And when I come into the Light, He can do good works.
This heartbreak is devastating and feels excruciating. Yet, the Lord does not leave us where we’re at. No matter how far we have strayed; into distant lands and nations or turned our back on Him, He wants to grow us, mold us, and teach us to look more like Him. He desires to woo us back in. And without repentance and possible heartbreak, we cannot fully know His forgiveness, grace, and glory.
“Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back.”