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Fig Leaves and Spinach

I’m relatively new to this whole transparency in ministry thing, so I’m not sure that I fully understand how it works.  I think I have an idea.  I’ve been reading blogs and watching a little bit of reality TV lately, and it seems that the key is to let your guard down.  The question is how much? There is a distinct difference between transparency and nakedness. Transparency, opening a window to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life, is an appropriate and effective tool for teaching and discipleship. Nakedness, on the other hand, revealing what shouldn’t be revealed in public, is inappropriate and counterproductive.

Uncontrolled anger, apathy, unwillingness to forgive, greed, worldliness, vanity, uncontrolled speech, and unrepentant hearts, these are all things that I’ve either read about or watched Christians admit to lately both online and on TV.   Frankly, I’m a little disturbed by the number of Christians who are openly confessing their sins to anyone and everyone who will listen and just leaving it at that.

No repentance.  No turning.  No change.  Nothing but a vague sense of bemused complacency and a secret, shared “Aren’t we just awful?”  Wink. Wink.  Nudge. Nudge.

It disturbs me, but I’ve done it, too.  Ah, nakedness.  Where’s a fig leaf when you need one?

Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Brothers and sisters, it’s a good thing for us to confess our sins to each other.  Because we have the same Spirit living inside us, we are able to pray intuitively and effectively on one another’s behalf.  If we find ourselves a bit sluggish to repent and change, other members of the Body can pray for that as well, asking God for the kind of discipline and divine intervention in our lives that we hate to experience, but know will ultimately bring with it righteousness and peace.  As followers of Christ and joint heirs in the Kingdom, we belong to one another.  We keep each other strong, and we hold one another accountable.

We don’t share that same bond with nonbelievers.  Whether they realize it or not, they are slaves not to the loving, patient, and forgiving Savior that we serve, but to sin and the Enemy, a killer who wants only to destroy them and hurt us.  To bare apathetic and unrepentant hearts in front of them is to hinder in a big way their progress toward accepting Jesus.  It makes them think that there’s no difference between their condition and ours, that sin is a laughing, or at least a casual matter, and that the need to repent is not urgent.

Lies.

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about my own struggle with worry.  In that post, I confessed my worry as sin, which was a huge, uncomfortable step for me.  That confession was a great start toward repentance and life change for me, but I left it at that.  See, I got a lot of positive feedback from that post from others who struggle with the same thing, and, without realizing it, I created a sort of mini support group for myself.  In my heart, I sat down cross-legged right there in a circle with my new friends and sang Kumbaya to myself.  I forgot that confessing sin is just the first step.

Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 

To renounce means “to give up and put aside voluntarily.”

About a week ago, I walked up on a conversation at work about cancer, a topic…a word…that stops me in my tracks and makes me break out in a cold sweat.  My friends were talking about a close call that someone they knew had had with the disease.  One of them made a friendly, light-hearted joke about their not being able to continue the conversation in my presence because of what it would do to me.  Instead of putting worry aside and demonstrating what I’d learned about trusting God, I went along with the joke.

“You know me…,” I began, pretending to leave quickly, then froze.

I had just identified myself by the very sin I’d written about, confirming in my friends’ minds–some of whom are not believers–any suspicion they may have had that God had not worked any miracles in my life. They didn’t know that it was my fault, not His.  By not renouncing sin, I made a mess of things, possibly causing more harm to my unsaved friends than if I’d never brought up the issue in the first place.

You know, we get pretty bent out of shape and embarrassed when we find out that we’ve been walking around with a piece of spinach or a fleck of pepper in our teeth for a while.  The first thing we do is think back through all of the people that might have seen it.  If we’ve been with friends, we get frustrated with them for not telling us, yet, many of us walk around with spiritual spinach in our teeth all the time, knowing the sin is there, but doing nothing about it.  We point it out.  We laugh about it.  We use it to entertain others.

Gross.

If we’re going to do that, I think we’d better just keep our mouths shut, don’t you?

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