When we are not qualified to speak: Part 2
Last week’s blog post inspired some conversation online and offline so I thought I would clarify some things. If you want to first check out last week’s post HERE, feel free.
I talk a lot about a “squeaky clean heart” in my conversations and teaching about living the Christian life. By that, I mean that at any given moment in time, someone should be able to ask me, “Laurie, is there any unconfessed sin in your life right now, or any area of your life that does not line up with God’s Word and is unaddressed?”
My answer should be no.
This is what I mean by a “squeaky clean” heart. Am I dealing with everything God is showing me? YES Am I tolerating any sin in my life? (I may sin, but it is being confessed immediately with a corresponding change of behavior.) NO Am I giving some areas of my life to God and not others? NO
What about the sin I don’t know about?
Leviticus 4:1-35 deals with the procedures for sin offerings. A repetitive pattern of phrasing occurs.
If one of Israel’s leaders sins by violating one of the commands of the LORD his God but doesn’t realize it, he is still guilty. When he becomes aware of his sin, he must bring as his offering a male goat with no defects. (Leviticus 4:22,23) (emphasis mine)
Sin is sin, whether we realize it or not.
Just like in a court of law, if a person says, “I didn’t know killing someone was murder,” he or she still gets charged with murder. We are accountable for our sin whether we call it sin or not, know it is sin or not, see our sin or not. Notice, however, that God does not ask us to do anything about our sin until we realize it is sin.
When he becomes aware of his sin, he must bring as his offering a male goat with no defects. (Leviticus 4:23) (emphasis mine)
This cycle occurs repeatedly.
- “don’t realize it, they are still guilty,” then “when they become aware” (Leviticus 4:27-28).
- “Or suppose you unknowingly touch,” then “when you realize what you have done” (Leviticus 5:3)
- “suppose you make a foolish vow of any kind,” then “when you realize its foolishness” (Leviticus 5:4)
When you become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin. (Leviticus 5:5) This pattern is evident in the procedures of guilt offerings as well. (See Leviticus 5:14, 17, 4)
Here is the good news!
As soon as you and I realize we have sinned unintentionally or intentionally, the forgiveness of Jesus is a confession away. If you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (emphasis mine)
The beauty of this verse is we can only confess what we know about, but in doing so we are cleansed from all unrighteousness, not some. Somehow God has his protection around the stuff we don’t know about yet before we have not matured enough to see our sin rightly. I enjoy resting in his sovereignty over my learning curve.
Our job is to address what we know.
Connecting to last week, suppose we hear someone gossip. Since you and I have gossiped, does that mean we can’t address the sin in another person? Of course we speak up! But we speak gently, because we too have gossiped or sinned in a myriad of other ways.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Here are some scenarios to consider:
- If we observe someone gossip and have no unconfessed gossip in our lives (hopefully true),
We are qualified to speak with gentleness.
- If we observe someone gossip and have unconfessed gossip in our lives,
We are qualified to speak with gentleness and confess our own sin to God immediately!
- If we observe someone gossip and gossip is alive and well in us too – unchecked, unconfessed, unaddressed –
I believe we are not qualified to speak.
This is my opinion, but in this scenario I don’t think we have the relational or spiritual leverage to address the speck in someone else’s eye when we have a log in our own. (Matthew 7:3-5) In this last instance, the only thing we are qualified to do is confess our rampant gossip to both God and the person we are seeing the same thing in. It’s similar to the parent who chain smokes but tells their teen that smoking is dangerous and not to do it.
Though the statement is true, it holds no power.
I am observing a lot of Christians seeing sin in others and not speaking up. Folks, we must speak up! Helping others realize their sin is good news so they can confess it! Confession paves the way for God to gain more room in our hearts and allows our witness to the watching world become more powerful. People get to witness our transformation into the likeness of Christ! Let’s care more about God’s glory and our witness than hurting peoples’ feelings or shrinking back because we sin too.
Let’s help each other!
Picture Explanation: Over the years I have told my children all I want for mother’s day is a letter and a peaceful day. Letters this year were tucked inside of cards each selected. Treasured words. Treasured people.
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