Why fess up and accept responsibility?
We try so hard to do things by the book; to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. But we often fail, because we are existentially imperfect. While we try to love others as well as we think we know how, we also have the knack of falling short of expectations. When we know that we have hurt someone we love, our hearts droop with disappointment. We feel like we have blown it and our relationship could be in jeopardy. Why? Because we think we have done our best and we yearn for their acceptance. This is especially true when we know they love us and we feel indebted to reciprocate. Guilt from broken relationships can lead to insurmountable emotional and mental distress. For the sake of our own peace of mind, we must take the first step to admit fault, to bring healing and reconciliation. Most of us can do this. The motivation is always our love for the one we have offended.
10 For “He who would love life and see good days: Let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3).”
To patch things up, we have to fess up to our failures, and seek reconciliation because we value our relationship. Love compels us to mend fences. It’s vital that we do what’s necessary to maintain good relationships with others; how much more with our Creator and God? God is no respecter of persons; He forgives the humble and contrite. Humility is the beginning of uplifting. We cannot find a resolution, until we accept that something has to change; by admitting we can do better. Our words can inflame the situation, so we must keep a reign over our tongue.
God is merciful and patient, so we can’t afford to keep brooding in our guilt. It doesn’t benefit us when we go against God standards. We hurt others and we rob ourselves of peace and joy. When the Lord’s face is against us, nothing will prosper.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold, from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84).
We have to make peace with God. We start by taking a humble stand of admitting we are in dire need. Our need is forgiveness, so that we are made whole—mind, body, and soul . Unless we come to the place of unworthiness and needing God, we will not receive His Mercy. God’s eyes and ears are open to the prayers of the righteous. He gets the attention of those who acknowledge He is Merciful and full of Compassion. He withholds no good from those who seek His Goodness.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge (Psalm 51).
God is Holy and Just. He requires very high standards that no one can meet. So when we sin, He has a right to mete out the punishment we deserve. The police, the courts, parents, administrators of schools have every right to discipline and punish those who break rules and laws. We should therefore, not expect less of the Creator of all souls; Who dwells in Highest Heavens. But for God’s Mercy, we would be destroyed. God longs to show us His Loving kindness. His Mercy must deal with our condition. He prescribes a surgical removal of our sins, so that we can be cleansed of its effects. We must admit that we are carrying sin, practicing it and have need of its complete excision. We can never be right with our fellow man, when we have fault with God. Against Him and Him only have we sinned. We may have hurt someone, but we have not sinned against them. There is One Greater than mankind. Repentance is a cry to be purged of offenses against God and others. Repentance is an admittance to God’s Mercy.
15 For thus says the High and Lofty One, Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit: To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 16 For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made (Isaiah 57).
How refreshing and comforting are these words to the one who is lugged with guilt. The One Who is High and Lofty has said, He longs to dwell with the contrite and humble in spirit; in His High and Holy place. Our Lord longs for fellowship and unbroken companionship. He wants to revive us: Make us live again by His Grace. He longs to revive the soul ravaged by sorrow and guilt. We are the souls He has made and He loves us with an Everlasting Love. He understands how fragile we are when there’s a broken relationship. Who can love like this? As I said earlier, we are indebted to those who love us. We love those who love us, but when we fail them it crushes us. They may not feel like we are deserving of grace, but God does.
God knows how much our guilt can destroy us. He longs to pour His Grace, but we must first come on our knees. God doesn’t brook pride. Pride makes excuses for a deteriorating condition. Pride is petulant. Humility is a willingness to admit we are unworthy on our own merits. We have to abhor our sin, resist it, flee from it and return to God. He will welcome us in His Presence, and with chords of love, He will uplift our spirit.
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4).
A contrite heart comes before God as a destitute, who has nothing to be proud of. Sinning against God should pierce our hearts to a point of grief, because we have dishonored Him. We must handle sin like a plaque; wash our hands, purify our hearts and plead with God to remove it. Then, we must commit to turn our backs on it. We can’t afford to be wishy-washy about the things that will destroy our souls. We should be drawing closer and closer to God each day, by delighting in submitting to His Ways. People who love each other tend to be compatible; they value the same things. Relationships are stronger with like-mindedness.
3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You. But to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You (Daniel 9).
Humility accepts the consequences of misconduct. Daniel doesn’t complain to God for the punishment meted to the Israelites, or for being taken captive with them to Babylon. He admits they were deserving of what they got. Daniel loved God so much, and knew he could prevail upon Him to show Mercy to the Israelites. Just because Daniel had stood before God as an upright man, he didn’t feel entitled. He pleaded like a beggar and didn’t use third-person pronouns, but put himself in the same boat as the disobedient. A contrite heart pleads for the mercy of others. When we have admitted our sin, we must be willing to take the punishment without complaining, and pray for restoration. God doesn’t owe anyone anything.
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18).”
It’s so important that as believers, The Body of Christ, that we never think ourselves better than those around us who don’t submit to God. We aren’t justified by comparison to others, but by humility. We are told in this parable that when we pray while comparing ourselves with others, we are callous and arrogant, because we justify our deeds as superior. Our deeds don’t commend us to God but our need for His Mercy. We have no right standing with God, when we believe we are made righteous by our own righteous works. We are made righteous by our admitting we have nothing righteous in us and cling to His true Righteousness; which He imparts to the penitent heart. Good works are the works of Christ in us. Humility allows Christ by The Holy Spirit within us, to do the will of God.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin (Romans 3).
Humility gives glory to that which is more excellent. A contrite heart is unpretentious in the presence of The Holy One, by admitting failure. Humility is the opposite of pride. By looking closely into God’s law we see how far removed we are and how much more we need His Righteousness imparted on us. Our works will never pass muster. We are to be living in repentance, covered daily by His Grace. His Grace causes us to come openly, and willingly so that we are forgiven. Because He longs to offer us His Loving kindness, we choose His Mercy over our pride. God desires that we live with Him in constant fellowship. This relationship hinges on love. Because we love Him, we will maintain this relationship.
We will be humble to do what The Holy Spirit commands us to do. Our submission and love causes Him to enfold us with His Righteousness. Righteousness is the work of the Spirit, and is not to be compared with others’. As long as we are His Children, we will also accept His discipline; so that we are made to be more like Him. Love draws us closer to Him as we fain to be made into His Likeness. This is a relationship that will continue into eternity, and is worth all the investment.
9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12).