By Jeannie St. John Taylor
Oregon author: You Wouldn’t Love Me if You Knew
Bernie Madoff got caught perpetrating a fifty billion dollar fraud. People lost life savings; retirements faltered; elderly formerly-wealthy investors moved in with children; even a few charities closed down. Terrible.
We know he’s aware people despise him because he’s requested permission to wear a flack vest for court visits. So why not just confess? Why not stand up in front of the world, admit his sins, say he’s sorry, ask forgiveness and be done with it? He knows he’s going down. Wouldn’t coming clean offer some relief?
Okay, I get it for Bernie. Any genuine confession would necessitate repentance, and repentance should include giving up the luxury apartment and his wife’s fortune and enduring other unpleasant consequences. He supposes if he can keep denying everything, well . . . good attorneys can work wonders. Maybe he can even keep details hidden
But what about us? Are we really so different from Bernie? Why is it so hard for us to confess when we’ve done wrong? We all do wrong, you know (see Rom. 3:23). Why has the tendency to pretend we’re not so bad permeated our world? Why, when we betray a friend, can’t we immediately say, “I’m guilty. I’m sorry”.
Nope. Not possible. We build a protective shell of denial and lies around ourselves and polish it till it glistens, hoping the reflections bouncing off it will blind others to our flaws and let us pretend a little longer. We’re unwilling to admit a sin even when the sin is so obvious we must manufacture lies to cover it, even though James says we are supposed to confess our sins to each other (see Jas. 5:16). We try to hide our true selves from others despite the fact that God sees everything we do, knows our thoughts and it is impossible to hide from him (see Psalm 139).
Just as Bernie knows he will eventually stand before a judge, we know we will eventually stand to be judged by God (see 2 Cor.5:10) and every un-confessed sin will be revealed. Everyone will know every single secret we kept hidden.
And still we hold onto the false image of ourselves, more concerned about how we think others perceive us than who we really are. The image matters more than the substance because if they really knew us they wouldn’t love us.
Or would they? Is it possible your friends and family might surprise you with forgiveness and love if you admit when you’re wrong?
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