One of the bad things about keeping busy is that we don't have too much time to think.
Lately, I've not been real busy. And I've been thinking a lot about how we perceive sin, perceive ourselves, perceive repentance, and perceive forgiveness.
'...the trouble is that what we call 'asking God's forgiveness' very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some 'extenuating circumstances.' We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don't cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses.' - C.S. Lewis in 'The Weight of Glory.'
It's always easy to look horizontally to find 'justification' for the things I do - those 'extenuating circumstances.' And I can usually find someone else I can reference who is far worse than I am. Well, at least somewhat worse than I am. I can be sure to point them out to God so that He's busy looking at them and not me. Then I can go on my way with my bit of pride or resentment in tact. Repentance was deftly avoided.
When we look vertically, however, and stand before a just and holy God, we start to see ourselves as we truly are. The more time we spend looking vertically, the more we realize that our hearts and minds are idol factories, always cranking out some new thing to displace God...and as fast as possible.
Matthew 15:17-20a (Jesus is explaining a parable)
'Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things that defile the man...'
We may be able to convince ourselves that we are just fine as we are, because our sinful hearts are always busy coming up with ways to prevent us from seeing our true selves.
It is when we look at the holiness of God that we do see our true selves, see our inward sinfulness (even if our exterior has a convincing sheen), that we can turn in repentance to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty of our sin and is always eager to forgive.
I John 1:9:
'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'
Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such