Tony asked, “How come the people who sat through the same sermon as I don’t seem to get the same message?”
I shrugged. “Because they don’t want to hear it.”
Tony isn’t satisfied by that answer. I don’t blame him. You hope that whatever words you write reach your intended audience. You take in the message on Sunday and try to act on it during the week, until you observe others acting as if they didn’t go to the service, and worse get rewarded for it. A wound delivered casually. A slap in the face, but it’s not personal. They really didn’t hear the message. Maybe they were thinking, “So-and-so should hear it,” instead of applying it to their own lives? When I think of that I recall the verse in John 21:20-24. I need to pay close attention to what I am doing in my life and my relationship with Christ.
It doesn’t matter what the other person is doing in their life. It may be grossly wrong, but until they are made aware of their own sins by self-examination (which comes from a heart influenced by God), they won’t see the finger pointing, but they will see your example. We also have to be aware that we might be the people in the wrong. Put everything up next to scripture and not your own emotions or knowledge, because those can mislead and flatter so you do not detect or hate your own sin. Repentance brings change. It means change.
Then, earlier during extended staff prayer this verse seemed more magnified than the rest. It comes from Psalm 36:2, “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate sin.” My first thought went to the many times I have witnessed somebody say one thing and do something completely contrary. They are blind because they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. Sin is easy. Living a life of truth is difficult. Then, I recall my morning devotions. Oh, how it rubs!
The sin I didn’t see because of self-flattery was pride. The lacerations of pride do damage. If you do something well enough, I remember thinking, you grow confident and lose humility. Though the deed itself isn’t a sin, doing something well can become a sin if we worship it like an idol. We can also exhibit an attitude of pride when someone else can’t do the same thing as well. Instead of growing the person and encouraging them to do well, we make them feel small. That was never my intention. I struggle to tell the truth with love, because truth is a must in life. Without truth, it’s just soft theology and everyone living in a padded room. Without love, truth can feel stark and unfeeling even though it’s something we should hear. So while I am one of the guilty ones who can sit there and say, “So-and-so should hear this,” I also hear the sermon and God’s Word.
That’s why some live contrary lives to what was preached on Sunday. Their hearts didn’t absorb the Word and they didn’t set their minds to implement a new lesson. Or maybe you just caught them on a bad day and they need mercy and prayer. Either way, my skin grew warm as I realized the humiliation of my actions, and I asked God’s forgiveness and guidance.
So what sin aren’t you seeing in your life?