One step forward, two steps back

How many times have you seen a friend doing something wrong and neglected to intervene because of your fear of being called a hypocrite? ‘You’re not perfect, who are you to tell me what to do?’ Well, you’re not alone. It’s happened to all of us. But what I’ve learned the real problem is, is not that we repeat our mistakes, but that we live in a world conditioned to believe that we already have to have overcome before we are qualified to speak, and that’s far from our truth.

The world teaches us to stay out of things which do not concern you; the whole notion of ‘minding your business’ is celebrated. But be reminded of this: as Christians, we are called to avoid customs of the world –

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Too many of us are trapped in the worldly misconception that advising or encouraging someone about a sin that you are currently struggling with makes you a hypocrite. If you are waiting to be perfect before giving advice, you will be waiting for a very long time. For it is written; “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (NIV).

This word was not made to discourage us from striving for perfection, but to remind us of God’s infinite majesty and how much we need Him. It does not stop there, God is not telling us, ‘you’re all sinners and there is nothing you can do about it’. He is not calling us to be complacent in our sinful nature, but rather to accept righteousness through faith.

He is calling us to believe that we are the righteousness of God even when we sin, not by what we have done, but by what Jesus has done for us.

“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24 (NIV)

Accepting this will be your first step to removing the idea that you must hide behind your sin. What we must understand is that the only way to be free from the shackles of sin is through accepting God’s gift of grace. God’s grace allows us to have life after sin. Instead of disregarding this gift by hiding your sin, we should give God thanks through confession and testimony.

Hiding your sin can only lead to more sin as you are allowing yourself to be imprisoned by your secrets. This is what the enemy wants. Instead, be transparent with your fellow Christians and encourage each other from a place of honesty and humility. “Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.’” Mark 5:19 (NIV)

There are times when we know what we are doing is wrong, but because we refuse to confess it we are met with guilt, shame and condemnation. Condemnation forces you to identify yourself by your behaviour rather than identifying yourself in Christ. Shame will cause you to be paranoid, making you believe that people around you are judging and condemning you. Understand this: it’s not about you. Notice how shame and condemnation make you place priority on what you have done over what Jesus has done for you.

To believe you are too inadequate to encourage someone about a sin you are also struggling with is selfish, and you end up backtracking over any progress you have made in realising that you have a problem. You are placing yourself and your insecurities above the salvation of your brother or sister in Christ. God has called us to do the opposite; “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

So, you have a choice to make: are you falling or are you helping someone up? Confess your sins and encourage someone around you, because confession brings healing! -“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)

“Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Romans 4:8 (NIV)

Romans 4:8 tells us that God will never count our sin against us. Therefore, we have the freedom to encourage others even when we are struggling ourselves. Take the focus off of yourself and give God glory! God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), in the places we fall short only God can make it up. Real strength is accepting that without God we are nothing.

My prayer for you:

In Jesus’ name, Lord we thank you for your gift of grace and no condemnation. I pray we do not allow the shame and guilt of sin to rule our lives and make us ignore our purpose to spread your word. I pray we remember that because of your sacrifice, I am righteous in Christ and my identity is in Him, nothing else. Amen


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