After much discussion, a perusal of the packed Chili’s parking lot and our stash of coupons, my family and I landed on Ruby Tuesday’s as our choice for dinner last night. It was a reluctant decision, largely motivated by our coupons and the lack of wait time.
My youngest, Avery, had been running on full-throttle insanity all day. My tolerance of her yanking things from my hands, baby talk whimpering, full-speed jumping onto my body and other antics was running thin. As I buckled her into her car seat, anxious to be back home, she took advantage of the moment and used it as an opportunity to enact her four-year-old mutiny. While I was bent over, approximately six inches from her face, she thrust her “squishy” Olaf toy directly into my eyeball. Unpleasant. I would describe it as unpleasant. My eye would not stop watering, burning, or closing. Avery laughed.
“Avery, what are we supposed to say when we hurt someone?”
“Right. So what do you need to say to me?”
“Sorry, I did whatever I did wrong, I can’t remember right now.
“You shoved your Olaf toy in my eyeball.”
“Oh Yeah. Sorry, I shoved my Olaf toy in your eyeball?”
“I forgive you. But please don’t do that again. It really hurt.”
Later that night, Avery asked me if I had been joking about that whole “toy in the eyeball really hurting thing.” Surely, I was just pulling her leg, right?
If there’s one thing we humans don’t like it’s having our mistakes or sin pointed out. Oh, that? That’s not sin. It’s just a thing I do that’s between me and God and I’d prefer no one else knew about. Oh, that? I decided for me it’s not a sin.
But how can we know redemption and grace without knowing we’ve sinned? How can we know the one who ransoms from sin without an awareness of our sins? How can I teach my daughter what’s right without teaching her what’s wrong? How can we take in the beauty and wonder of the cross, a sacrifice for us, if we don’t believe we need one?
And in a world where stepping on other’s toes is frowned upon, how can we really know what’s sin and what isn’t?
- Ask the Lord in prayer. We can ask him to search and examine our hearts. Like David in the Psalms, we invite him to “see if there be any wicked way in us.” We are so protective of our sin. We like to assume it’s not actually sin. Knowing the greatest consequence of our sin is it separates us from God, breaks his very heart, wouldn’t we rather be safe than sorry? Let’s ask him, regularly. In his book, The Utter Relief of Holiness, author John Eldredge asks if we aren’t repenting of something regularly, how can we claim to be serious about holiness? It’s a good question.
- Read God’s word. It’s “sharper than any two-edged sword.” As we read, let’s ask the Lord to show us truth where we’ve believed lies. Let’s ask him to expose hidden sin within our hearts and then to set us free. We serve a God who reveals that he might heal.
- Be Accountable. As we surround ourselves with other strong believers equipped with the freedom to speak truth into our lives, we minimize the risk of secretly nurturing sin our whole lives long. As we sit beneath hearty, biblical teaching aimed not at stroking our egos but at shaping us into a spotless bride, we make room for the Holy Spirit to do his holy work of convicting.
Avery needs to know it’s not acceptable to shove her toy in my eyeball. Yes, so she might find mercy, grace, redemption, and forgiveness, but also so she can stop shoving toys in my eyeball. I need to know where there is sin my life. Yes, so I might find mercy, grace, redemption, and forgiveness. But, also so I can stop breaking things. Eyeballs and people are fragile. I don’t want to break either. I don’t want to break the heart of God. I don’t want to damage the relationships in my life. Sin destroys me in the same way shoving sharp objects in my eye destroys my body. I don’t want to do either. And, I’m thankful to serve a God who loves me enough to tell me what’s wrong so I can stop doing it. Even if it hurts my pride a little.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the kid asking God, “You were just joking about that sin hurting you thing, right?”