2017 will be remembered as the year when successful, famous people were suddenly taken down by the sins of their pasts being brought to light.
And when Christians fall, it’s doubly scandalous. We all know of those who claimed to be followers of Jesus whose hidden sins were embarrassingly exposed. Jesus himself, spoke out strongly against religious people who pretended to be Godly on the outside — while being corrupt on the inside. “White washed tombs” he called them.
But before we get too critical of the hypocrites around, we should pause to recognize the propensity we all have for living a double life.
Being aware of my own vulnerability, I have set a life resolution — one of my 40 Life Resolutions — as a reminder for me to continuously bring every vice of mine into the light. I don’t ever want to be counted among those remembered as having fallen from grace.
Resolution #11: Resolved to have absolutely no secrets of any kind in my personal life. I will fully disclose all my areas of weakness to trusted friends that they may hold me accountable — so that I may always be a man of complete authenticity and integrity.
How does this play out for me? Four ways.
1. When I mess up, I fess up. I use this phrase a lot. Secret sins never go away –instead, they grow and fester until they eventually take you down. We sure see that happening around us today! For my part, I want to live completely in the light. This is why many years ago I installed Covenant Eyes on my computer and have had my reports sent to my wife AND my two daughters. It’s amazing how those inappropriate images suddenly have very little sex appeal when indulging them would result in grievous conversations with my precious girls. And even when the software doesn’t catch something that may pop up on my screen (which just happened when searching for the image above in this post) I have made it my personal policy to report what I see to Cindy — I figure it’s her business to know what my eyes and heart have glimpsed.
2. Maximize, rather than minimize our sins. Too many people — even within the church — try to minimize their sins, calling them mistakes or blunders. They avoid taking full responsibility for their sin and make flimsy excuses instead. This is a slippery slope which desensitizes people to the seriousness of their sin — they pretend they aren’t all that bad after all. With me, if I’m going to err, I find it better to over-apologize, over-confess, and take more than my share of responsibility for my actions.
3. Absolute accountability. By this I mean that I intend to be forthright in confessing not just my bad behavior, but also my sinful attitudes, thoughts, and weaknesses. A mentor of mine once chastised me for my stated goal of confessing every sin. He warned me that “people can’t be trusted to know everything about us.” I respectfully disagree. We’ll only become as holy as we become honest. And if I’m doing things that potentially could make me unsafe around others, maybe I should stop doing those things!
4. Open Invitation. I invite others to speak into my life about sins that I may be blind to. That includes you!
As this new year arrives, may God’s people renew their efforts to live with integrity, that we may not see more of the casualties caused this past year by Christian hypocrisy. It starts with us. Join me in making such an important resolution.
Jesus sums it up in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”