On the way home from my daughter’s track meet, we got to see a town square pole get uprooted and smashed by a big freight truck. It was something I’ve never seen before, but it was also a teachable moment that I took advantage of when it was available. The reason the truck driver could not navigate the turn is because someone else disobeyed the traffic signs and pulled over a car length ahead of the line to stop. The truck driver had no room. Even when the lady in the car reversed as far as the car behind her permitted, it was not enough for the truck driver. Then it was a chain reaction. Truck 1. Pole 0.
My daughter was upset. She was concerned that someone would have to pay for the pole, and that someone would have to put the new pole in place. She didn’t understand why the lady did what she did, and she thought that she should be punished for putting the truck in an impossible situation to navigate. At the same time, she wondered if the truck driver would be punished because he did drive up on the curb and tear down the pole. This is where my teachable moment came into play.
We can easily agree that the lady should have stopped where the law says she should stop. We can easily agree that no one should be driving on curbs, though as a truck driver daughter, I understand why it had to go down that way. If the lady would not have pulled up so far, then the truck driver likely would not have driven on the curb. Nonetheless, this is a situation where we can argue that both parties did something wrong. Just because the one party caused the other person to do something wrong, doesn’t make the other person’s wrong any better.
Consider now, the topic of sin. Sometimes we do something that is bad, and then we place that blame on someone else “making” us do it. No one makes you do it, but somehow it seems like they do when we do something wrong. Why is that? We don’t like to be wrong. We don’t like to be found guilty. We don’t want to look like the bad guy. The other person made us do it. When we say this, it makes us feel better. It takes away our responsibility. It makes us feel like our dirty hands are not-so-dirty. But it is a façade. The truth is, wrong is wrong and right is right. If you lose your temper and act in anger because someone sinned against you, then your hands are dirty. You are guilty. There is no, “she made me do it,” that will change your guilt.
What can we do knowing that we cannot push off blame? Accept responsibility for your actions. Confess. Repent. When you do this, you accept the forgiveness our merciful God offers. This will result in something much better than blaming another could ever achieve. Forgiveness. Spiritual Growth. Integrity.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” – Proverbs 28:13 [NLT]
“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” – Genesis 3:12-13 [ESV]
I recently moved into a new home. Before I moved in, there was a work crew here making sure that all of the blemishes were no longer visible. The nail holes were patched up. The walls were painted. Where there once was a mark on the wall, there was fresh paint. You know paint can cover up so much. For example, you can have a scrap on your car and a bit of touch up paint will make it go away. It doesn’t mean the scrap didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean you didn’t get a little too close to the garage. But it looks like nothing happened.
Long ago they would whitewash the tombs. They wanted to be sure that the graves were easily marked, some would say covered with lime or chalk, but it helped them consider it pure in case someone walked up to the tomb. Otherwise, if the whitewashing didn’t occur, a person would be contaminated, defiled for being in close contact with the dead.
Today’s passage says we cannot whitewash our sins. We cannot cover them over. We cannot pretend they aren’t there. We cannot take a paintbrush and cover it all up. Instead, we are to admit our sins. We are to confess and repent. If something you have done has not yet been confessed, get it out now. God is quick to forgive. You simply need to confess your sins and move forward. Don’t hide them behind some whitewash and think they will go away. Receive God’s mercy. Confess and receive His mercy.
“You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”
-Proverbs 28:13 [MSG]