atonement, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, devotional, Fluttershy, forgiveness, God, guilt, inspirational, Jesus, motivational, New Testament, Old Testament, Princess Celestia, repentance, shame, Twilight Sparkle
Inspiration for Today’s Motivational: “A Bird in the Hoof”
As Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle demonstrate in this episode, admitting mistakes (and, by extension, sins) is not always easy. Especially when you are fearful of what the consequences will be, whether they are real or imagined.
Even if you’re conscious that you did something wrong or made a mistake that could have negative consequences for others, intentionally or inadvertently, there’s a number of factors that keep us from owning up to it sometimes. Fear of punishment is one, obviously, as if punishment wasn’t unpleasant it wouldn’t be a deterrent. Normally people who do things wrong are intending to avoid punishment and get away with it, but there are also times in which even those who admit they did wrong fear the just punishment, and that’s understandable. (After all, none of us hope we get the just punishment for our sins…) Similarly, we may think the punishment is disproportionate and that we can’t afford to take it, and so it would be better to try and deny it. I have a feeling I’d much rather make an excuse when I’m pulled over for speeding than get punished with a fine and points against my license.
But in other cases it’s something a bit more serious. Perhaps we’re scared admitting a sin would make people think less of us. That we’d lose a friend or relationship because we don’t think they’d ever forgive us for what we’ve done. In some cases, perhaps it’s a sin that we’ve confessed before with a pledge to do better, and yet we’ve slipped and committed it again (such as in the case of chronic bad habits or addiction). Eventually we stop confessing because we fear God and others won’t forgive us any longer; proverbially “rolling their eyes” when we say we’re sorry, and so we give up trying to change.
And in the worst cases of all, perhaps we have a sin or mistake that, in and of itself, says that we are bad individuals. Something that we think even God cannot forgive us for, let alone other people. So we don’t own up to that and keep it a secret for fear that no one will ever see us in the same way.
God doesn’t hate sin because there’s a tablet somewhere he wrote at one point that says no one is allowed to do it. He hates sin because it destroys people and leaves them miserable. He also already knows everything we’ve done; good or bad. The purpose of confession is partially to give ourselves relief. To know and admit what we’ve done wrong and get by it. Not confessing could be giving ourselves permission to “continue” living in that way because we won’t admit we’ve done wrong or “that we’re sick and we need a cure”. But even if we keep from sinning again, so long as it weighs on our heart, it will continue to torment us. We might end up feeling we’re living a lie, rejecting praise and accolades because we don’t feel we deserve them, or sink into depression or misery so long as we have the unconfessed sin weighing down our conscience.
I’m not sure if some Churches still advocate declaring all of your sins before the public assembly, and, if they do, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. People, after all, are “human”, and all have frailties and weaknesses regardless of which Church they belong too. But I do believe people need to confess their sins to God and before at least one other person who can be trusted. It is important to know and understand in one’s heart that God loves them no matter what they have done or how often they have sinned. God created you, and I don’t believe God creates things just to make them loathsome or hateful to him. It’s important also to confess to someone else so that we can feel the sensation of still being loved, in spite of our sins or mistakes, and that people accept us for who we are. And if someone else can accept us as we are with the biases and weaknesses of “human love”, then we can imagine how much more God loves and accepts us; that while our sin may be evil and bad, we ourselves are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Even in the most brutal parts of the Bible, it’s important to note no one was ever able to “out-love” God.
As Jeremiah 29:11 reads: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” And finally, in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the wonderful gift of Lord Jesus and the free gift of forgiveness and salvation that He brought to mankind. Thank you also that you are the “father of the prodigal son” who not only hopes for the day the sinner will return to you but actively watches and waits and sees them “coming from far off”. Help me to feel the full measure of your love in my life and your care for me so that I know I can always turn to you when I am at my lowest, rather than waiting to “get myself higher” before I can do so. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”