After last week's post "A Good Christian?" went up, a good friend (and a good Christian), Kim Pinnell, sent a private message saying I made a mistake. "How so?" I doubtfully replied.
"You gave three steps in becoming a good Christian, right? Why did you go from #1 to #3?"
He nailed me. I had done some minor revising, didn't check it all to insure consistency, left out #2, and received a dose of humility. All writers (and Riters) need editors. Someone who knows his stuff, can spot mistakes, and has the love and courage to point them out to the author. You see, the writer knows what he meant to say, it's consistent in his head, but he's too close to the work to have the perspective to see flaws. That's why most of us write our first draft then leave it alone for a day or so. When we return we've built enough distance to have perspective. OK, last week just had a gap of two hours between the first draft and the revision. My bad, and I paid for it. But I did fix it!
This principle holds true for the spiritual life. Sometimes, we're too close to see our own issues. Sometimes we blind ourselves to them, fearing the consequences of acknowledging them, that we'll lessen our view of ourselves, or, if publicly, others' perceptions of us. Sometimes transparency about them increases our vulnerability, and we fear others taking advantage.
Let me suggest that two verses combine to give us a boost in growing in Jesus. They differ in how the mistake gets brought to the light, but from that point the passages match.
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently" (Galatians 6:1).
" Therefore confess your sins to each other..." (James 5:16a)
Galatians reveals what Kim did--another person comes to us and shares a fault or mistake or sin of ours. James includes those who first recognize their own issues and then approach another. But did you notice that both cases involve acknowledging the error to another person.
And the result? Galatians says the goal is restoration; James adds, "and pray for each other so that you may be healed The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:15b). What precedes healing and restoration? Transparency.
This scares me. I tend to be private, to deal with my demons with just my God. But that's wrong, and I've worked to make changes here. But combining these verses hints that spiritual growth requires transparent involvement with others. A bit unconventional for me. But...
Kick Starting the Application
Has a friend or family member shared a genuine fault of yours with you? How did you respond--with appreciation or resistance? Why? Have you ever asked someone to give you feedback? Why is it important to have some transparency? What most keeps you from having it? How can you change that? And, how do you evaluate the truthfulness of what people share? Does it all have to be true, or may there be just a needed nugget of truth?