I don’t know anyone who likes to be confronted. When I mess up, I mostly hope that nobody notices. And I certainly don’t get excited about sitting down over coffee with a friend who will remind me of what a sinner I am.
Last week, I had one of those moments. And it wasn’t a situation where I knew I had messed up and was just waiting for someone to call me out. I was completely blindsided. This person saw a blatant area of sin that I was unable to see. What a beautiful thing—this is how community is supposed to work. We spend time with others who will watch our lives and exhort us toward Christ. Praise the Lord.
But, not really. That’s not how I felt, not even a little bit. All I wanted to do in that moment was change the subject, excuse myself to the ladies’ room or walk outside into traffic. The realization that I was unwilling to deal with my sin prompted me to examine how I typically respond to God’s discipline in my life. So, I am now in the process of discovering what my fig leaves are. The story of Adam and Eve—how they sewed together fig leaves to cover up their nakedness—is my story, as well. Here’s how:
- I look for sin in the lives of others.
In an attempt to divert the focus from my own sin, I highlight the sin of another. When I was in junior high and kids were mean to me, my mother used to say they were just cutting me down to make themselves look better. That’s exactly what I do as an adult! Jesus warns in Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? …You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Ooooh, hypocrite. That’s a strong word.
- I minimize.
The saddest thing is that I use truth to minimize my sin. I’ll say really spiritual things like, “I know He is sanctifying me,” and “Christ paid for my sin and loves me in my weakness.” But in my heart, I don’t believe it. I’m just saying things to get people off my back—or worse, to get God off my back. It’s a way for me to stop thinking about what a dirty sinner I am. There are moments when I need to sit at the bottom of the pit and recognize my offense toward God. That’s a good place to be, because then all I can do is look up.
- I make excuses.
It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it? When I’m caught in the act, I want to make it all about why I sinned. I wouldn’t ever say, “The devil made me do it,” but I feel perfectly comfortable saying that my husband, my boss or my kids made me do it. It’s a posture of complete pride and self-exaltation. It’s impossible to receive grace and forgiveness when I’m thinking this way.
- I escape.
Usually escaping is a sign that I’m stuck in sin I’m unaware of. I’m not saying it’s sinful to spend hours on end watching reruns on Netflix—but, maybe I am. At least it is for me, because it’s a way for me to get the focus off my own heart. I think this can be said about many other ways we seek comfort—food, alcohol, porn, gaming, relationships. You name it.
This is how Adam and Eve reacted. When they heard God walking in the garden, they hid, they covered, and they tried to escape His correction. But here’s the most amazing part—they thought that by covering their physical nakedness, they would also cover their spiritual nakedness. What a sad little Band-Aid they created! He knew their sin was a spiritual problem, not a physical one. In fact, He gave a spiritual solution, which was the shed blood of a living thing. He promised to solve the spiritual problem once and for all, through Christ.
So, next time I sit down to have coffee with a friend, I’ll be begging my Father for the strength to look deeply at my offense toward Him, repent and walk in obedience.
Every time I grab a fig leaf, I’m rejecting the actual solution for my shame. The solution has already been graciously given. And He is too beautiful to be rejected.