Last Thursday I talked about the importance of what the Bible calls “getting the log out of our own eye” before we start removing specks from the eyes of others.
What does log removal look like and why is it important?
Some years back I was struggling greatly in a relationship. I felt I had been wronged beyond repair. I was hurt deeply by the sins of another; this person had committed an unpardonable sin in my estimation. I had no desire or inclination to forgive. Ever.
Then God miraculously moved in my heart. I’ve been blessed with richly biblical teaching over the years and was learning the importance of seeing both the depth of my sinfulness and the magnitude of God’s endless grace. Grace shines brightest on the backdrop of the darkness of sin. A book I was reading at the time suggested that when we are struggling with forgiving someone we can do something very practical: make a list of the person’s sins against you, then a list of your sins against God.
Pen and notebook in hand, I began. I didn’t have to wrack my brain to come up with the numerous sins that had been committed against me. The list easily flowed from my pen: lying; deceit; robbery; hypocrisy; arrogance; and more. Writing the list brought even more bitterness to the surface of my heart. I felt vindicated in my anger. If there was a log present it certainly wasn’t mine! The weight and severity of the sins against me were pulling my heart toward self-pity and vengeful resentment. I had to admit to myself that I wanted this person to go away. Forever. Until that moment I don’t think I ever truly hated anyone. My list concluded with over a dozen painful sins for which I and those I loved were bearing the consequences.
Then I started the list of my sins against God. I asked HIm to take me as far back as would be helpful. Memories started to flood my mind. I was suddenly a first grader who consented to steal a magic baby bottle from the local drugstore when pressured by a friend. A third grader who cheated on a reading test to advance beyond the smart girl in our class. An eleven-year-old who gossiped about a girl in class because she was prettier than me and the boy I liked was paying her too much attention. A high school sophomore who made moral compromises because I feared man more than I feared God. A 17-year-old who skipped school but was too foolish not to wear the sunscreen that would have prevented such a dead giveaway to my parents.
The memories continued. As did my list. Stealing. Gossip. Lust. Cheating. Fear of man. Pride. Selfishness. Rebellion. Dishonoring my parents.
As my list grew, so did the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This Baptist girl who prided herself in being a “good girl” was face to face with the pervasiveness of my many sins against God. Over a three day period the Holy Spirit tenderized my heart. Sinful anger. Hatred. Greed. Jealousy. Discontent. Conceit. Lack of compassion and love. Laziness. Page turning additions had a painful but wonderful affect on my heart. What I had learned from authors and preachers was true! My sins against God were far greater than my enemy’s sins against me!
Chuck by chunk, a log was being lovingly removed from my eye as the gracious gift of conviction flooded my heart. Seeing my sin was never so helpful. As my sins were listed for my own eyes to see, gratitude welled up in my soul. Because I wasn’t a “real” sinner like so many I knew who slept around, abused drugs or alcohol, treated people in ungodly ways and did really bad stuff, I had lived unaware of just how much I had been forgiven by the very One who died to declare me not guilty. How, then, could I accept such a gift but then refuse to extend the same to someone whose sins against me were far less than mine against God?
I’ll tell you the rest of the story tomorrow.