King Solomon - “The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” (Proverbs 20:27)
In the War of 1812, U.S. Navy Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote the following words to Major General William Henry Harrison: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” In the 1960’s, as a commentary on the turmoil caused by the Vietnam War, “Pogo” comic strip artist had one of his characters say, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.” We could all say the same thing when talking about the healing we all need in our lives. We are our own worst enemy and the greatest hold up to our own remediation.
For healing to take place in our lives, we must be willing to accept the responsibility for our own actions and admit that we are the problem. Instead, here’s what most of us do. We say, “If I can just change this relationship (or career or home or town or a host of other things), then everything will be fine.” The only problem is that wherever we go, we’re there, and we are the ones who keep messing things up. It’s time for us to take responsibility for our faults. We need to stop making statements like (1) It happened a long time ago so I’m sure everyone has forgotten (2) I’m just going through a stage so it’s ok for me to act this way (3) Everybody does it so it must not be that bad. When we make these statements, we’re basically giving excuses for our own sin. We might say, “It’s no big deal.” If that were the case, why do we still remember what happened and agonize over them decades later?
Sometimes, we try to blame others for our sin, saying things like, “If it wasn’t for this other person, I wouldn’t be this way.” Our problems may be 90% the fault of someone else, but God holds us responsible for the 10% that we control (which is often the way we respond to what has happened to us). We need to stop acting like we are perfect and simply admit that we have done wrong. The Apostle John writes “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not within us.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) The Phillips translation says that if we do this, “We live in an illusion.” The Living Bible says, “We’re only fooling ourselves.” The point is, if we’re going to stop defeating ourselves, we have to stop deceiving ourselves by pretending that our problems are the fault of others.
Followup Activity - In your journal or on a piece of paper, make a list of the things you pretend to not feel guilty about but in your heart you know you have to accept responsibility for. Then, pray and admit to the Lord that you are responsible for each one. If you are leading your family through this devotion, have a discussion about how each one can complete the exercise just described, and allow each family member to complete the exercise privately.
Prayer for Today - Lord, I admit to You that I have sinned. Please forgive me of my sin and help me while I’m in this process of accepting responsibility for my faults. In Jesus’ name, Amen.