I’ve been reading a book called “Note to Self: The Art of Preaching to Yourself” by a guy named Joe Thorn. So far it’s really been kicking my butt. It’s not a very long book, but it’s taking me a long time to get through it because after every chapter I have to put it down and walk away.. Every page hits home and stings. It’s opened my eyes to a lot that I “knew” about myself in a theological, philosophical sense, but not really in a personal, internal way… at least, not for a long time anyway. The book isn’t about preaching, or teaching anyone else anything, it’s about holding Scripture up to your chest like a grenade and pulling the pin… it’s about letting the Spirit that speaks painful truth through those words turn the gun around and point it at you.
Recently someone told me that I can’t see the faults in myself, that I only see what’s wrong with other people. I told them they were right… sometimes I’m arrogant and prideful, I can be a jerk, I can be judgmental and hypocritical, I’ve lied, I’ve cheated to get ahead, I get angry and lose my temper, I can carry a grudge and I don’t like being criticized.
People don’t like it when you start admitting things like that… people like to fight, they like to tell you your wrong and get you fired up about it. They like using things like that as ammunition to tear you down… if they can prove that you’re prideful it will make them look better.. if you are a jerk it means they aren’t.. if you’re wrong, it means they’re right.
People also like to pretend they’ve got themselves all together.. they like to say a lot of words and do a lot of things and be seen at the right places….
“Dang, I forgot to check-in at the gym on Facebook!
That whole workout was pointless!”
People worry a LOT about their image.. and if they say they don’t, that’s just part of the image they’re wanting you to see. They want people to think they’re calm, to think they’re cool, to think they’re holy or godly.. They don’t like it when people start admitting their faults, because it’s a domino effect… pretty soon, everyone has to admit that they struggle with pride… and they can’t very well sit there and claim to be the only person in the room not prideful, because obviously, saying that is pretty prideful! If everyone in the argument agrees that everyone is angry and said some things they shouldn’t have, that one person cant very well stand there and claim to be the only level head in the bunch! Admitting your own faults results in four things:
1) It forces you to toward humility . Not the prideful humility that you show people as part of your humble image, but godly humility in your heart that causes your inflated ego to shrink back and take up less space in your life, making room for the Holy Spirit to work more powerfully.
2) It forces you toward patience and forgiveness of others. Once you start seeing the arrogance and pride in yourself, you become sympathetic toward others instead of angry. You become less judgmental when you realize you aren’t any different than they are.. you struggle with the same sinful condition of heart.. you aren’t against each other, you are against the enemy leading you into that sin.
3) It leads you to speak more boldly in truth and love! We all know we are hypocrites. We all know that you should practice what you preach, and only preach what you practice, and so, knowing our own secrets, we keep our mouthes shut so nobody has any reason to start snooping into our lives to see that man behind the curtain pulling leavers. Once you are able to admit that you struggle with something, the Spirit can begin to heal you and empower you with a testimony to help others still trapped in sin. Secrets drug screaming into the light lose their power over your life, and once you’ve drug your own secrets out you can effectively recognize and confront those still holding them back.
4) It leads others to follow you to repentance. When one person has the courage to shine a light into the dark parts of their heart people see the moths scatter and the dust blow away.. people see the weight of sin lifted and the want that for themselves! Remember those Promise Keepers rallies? Why were they so successful? On his own, it’s hard for one man to admit he’s a crappy husband or father. Encouraged by tens of thousands of other men, they can all stand together and say “you know what… we suck at being men, but by the grace of God and help from each other, we will repent and change.” The pride goes away and it’s easy to accept grace and admit that we aren’t perfect.. and there is freedom in knowing that, no matter how good you are, you aren’t where you need to be.
The best thing that could happen to any of us is to have all our sins broadcast on the evening news for everyone to see! We would be free! Free to stop pretending we’re something we’re not! Free to stop pretending we’ve got it all together. We would be free to accept grace and forgiveness, we would be free to preach the gospel without hypocrisy!
Some people become proud of the things they admit, like they’re more holy if they’ve had more forgiven, if they’ve overcome more hardships, but this is just another extension of their image.. Paul said that he was the greatest of all sinners, yet his confession brought glory to the grace of Jesus, not himself. Be careful your excitement about the grace you’ve received doesn’t become pride in yourself! Don’t boast about how far you’ve come, boast about the redemptive power of Jesus on the cross!
Try making a list of your faults. If you have someone in your life you can list them to, DO IT.. if you don’t, just write them down.. be honest with yourself.. sit and make yourself say them out loud. Own them. Realize that you aren’t perfect, you aren’t always right, you don’t always know best. Realize that you are holy only because JESUS in holy. Without HIS grace, HIS forgiveness, HIS gift, you wouldn’t be able to make that list, you wouldn’t be able to repent.. you would be a slave to that pride that refuses to let you see yourself as imperfect… and so would everyone else.