A friend, who happened to have a house cleaning business, offered to get things spick-and-span. What a gift and what a blessing! But a few days before the date, I noticed the shower curtain liner. In a word, it was gross. Now my friend was an experienced mom who could completely empathize with a new mom's exhaustion. She had cleaned plenty of houses in all sorts of condition, so I doubt she would have been repulsed. She was also my sister in Christ. But pride and fear of man do funny things. I couldn't possibly let her see that I had let it get to such a state and think who knows what about my competence as a homemaker, so I did what any self-respecting person would do. I cleaned ahead of the cleaner to save face, and I still do this but in a different context.
What will they think of me if I share this prayer request or admit that I struggle with this sin? What if I confess that I thought this or said that? What will they think if I start crying or fumble for words when I pray or don't give the "right" answer to a question? What will they think if they find out that I don't have it all together? I had better do a little scrubbing to make sure everything looks good before I let anyone see into my life.
But what does the Gospel say?
If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliation gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha's hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.
Thankfully, the more exposed I see that I am by the Cross, the more I find myself opening up to others about ongoing issues of sin in my life. (Why would anyone be shocked to hear of my struggles with past and present sin when the Cross already told them I am a desperately sinful person?)…
I give thanks for the gospel's role in forcing my hand toward self-disclosure and the freedom that follows.1
Isn't this encouraging? The fact that I am a Christian and trusting in Christ alone is proof positive of my desperate state. I could never atone for my sins or attain to God's holy standard. But the Gospel declares what Christ has done on my behalf. This changes everything - not only my relationship with God but my relationships with others. So while there may still be grime on the shower curtain liner of my life, because of the Gospel…
- I don't have to clean myself up. I have been washed, sanctified, and justified. (1 Cor. 6:11)
- I have been united with brothers and sisters in a local church who are also works in progress. We are not competitors but companions and recipients of much needed forgiveness. Our unity is in Christ, so I do not have to tailor my persona to be accepted. (Eph. 2:19)
- My identity is not defined by the strength of my performance. Nor is it permanently marred by the scars and failures of the past. God is renewing His image in me toward wholeness and healing. (2 Cor. 3:16-18)
- We have freedom to be honest about our sins and brokenness, which increases our love for God and for one another. (Luke 7:41-50; Eph. 4:15-16)
How does the truth of the Gospel help your relationships with other believers? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
1. A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love, Milton Vincent, Focus Publishing, 2008, pp. 34-35.
Many thanks to Christie Davidson for sharing this quote at our church's women's social and leading the discussion which inspired this post.