“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…” Hebrews 12:1
The sin which so easily entangles us…
I made my commitment to Christ when I was fifteen. That was just under forty years ago. I have a lot of experience being a Christian, walking with God, discerning and avoiding sin. And still, sin easily, much too easily, entangles me. A white lie, just a teeny tiny one about something completely unimportant, of no real consequence except that the deception itself turns it into more than it ever should be. My only calculation that accompanies the ruse is that it is easier to let the lie stand rather than correct it.
I hate deception in any form. I hate being lied to, which is apparent in my “Liar, Liar” post. I have difficulty interpreting others’ actions and discerning character from someone’s behavior. Gullible, yes. Naive, probably. Way too trusting, definitely. I need honesty from those around me to do well in this world. Yet, even I fall into creating a falsehood from time to time. It is rarely something of any importance. Letting someone tell me something I already know and acting as if I am learning it for the first time. Asking a question I already know the answer to. Letting someone believe one thing is true when it is really something else that is true.
Some might call this being polite. Some might say it is okay to reserve one’s point-of-view in the interest of keeping peace or going with the flow. Some might say if it is nothing of significant consequence, then it is no big deal. Some might say that some people can’t handle the truth and they need to be protected from it.
My conscience screams at me. But, it is much better, I think, for me to keep the deception to myself. ‘What someone doesn’t know can’t hurt them.’ Until the victim does find out, and I see the disappointment and betrayal in their face revealing a deep wound. The offended may be able to maintain a perspective on the trivialness of the offense and not let it affect how they think of me. The one I hurt may be able to forgive my lapse in judgment. Or, they may not and I have damaged something precious to me. My conscience screams some more.
What a dilemma I have wrought for myself! If I confess to the one I offended, then they will know what I have done and I may have to face their disappointment anyway. If I confess, I risk putting the one offended in the position of temptation to react harshly and in an unforgiving manner. If I confess, I feel my own embarrassment at being ‘found out’, rendered as the fraud I really am. If I confess, I feel my shame. If I confess, I verify that I am weak and sometimes foolish. If I keep it to myself, perhaps no one will ever know…except for me and God.
Here are the most difficult parts of my dilemma: Confessing to God what I have done and begging for His forgiveness as I strive to repent. Forgiving myself for causing a stir over something that was easily avoided. Forgiving myself for treating someone I value highly as if they were unimportant to me. Reconciling the person of integrity and honesty I want to be with the person who is entirely imperfect and grossly flawed. On my knees I go to petition the only One who can completely absolve me of my sin. And I work on forgiving myself.
I don’t know if the one I offended will be able to restore our relationship to its prior status. I am tempted to think, “If I had just kept quiet, they would never know and things between us would be okay. There would be no forgiveness needed, no known offense.”
I sometimes wonder how Bathsheba felt when she discovered David had ordered her husband’s death so that he could hide their sin and have Bathsheba for himself. Perhaps she never knew, but I doubt that. Royal palaces are hotbeds of gossip. Joab, the commander of David’s army, knew David ordered Uriah’s murder. (2 Samuel 11:14, 15) How it must have strained the trust and love between them if Bathsheba even suspected what David did. Given the depth of lament David expresses in Psalm 51, I tend to believe David confessed to her himself and begged her forgiveness. David and Bathsheba suffered deeply for their indiscretion, losing the child which came from it. Yet, David and Bathsheba eventually became the parents of Solomon who would become one of Israel’s greatest kings. They must have worked things out between them.
Deception is usually discovered at some point. Satan likes to play with us, let us think everything is okay because we keep quiet. Then he orchestrates the revealing and laughs heartily at us as we squirm and suffer the consequences of an extended deception. I choose to confess, sooner rather than later, to steal from Satan the opportunity to wreak more havoc than I have already accomplished myself. I choose to do all I can to make right a lapse in my honor, to repent, so that God can forgive me. So that I can forgive myself for hurting someone I care about. So that the one I offended can forgive me.
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.” Psalm 51:1-3
Sin always brings consequences…destruction, death…even the sins I think I hide so well. Sin of every kind, of any kind, separates me from God until I repent of it.
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.” Hebrews 10:26
There is no hiding from God. To maintain a deception is to sin willfully. The one I offend may never know. But, God will. And, I will.
All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.