White Lies Still Leave Stains

I lied to someone yesterday.

I was running late to an event, and subtly slipped in a comment about how “this place always takes longer to get here than I remembered.” But the truth is that I’d checked my GPS before leaving my house, and GPS confirmed that I was just going to be late.

I told myself on the way over that I wouldn’t say anything deceitful to make myself sound innocently delayed.

And then I still did.

I left thinking, “Why did I say that? Ugh. But…it doesn’t really matter. White lies don’t hurt people. Only big, intentional lies hurt people. I know God forgives me, I don’t need to say anything to this person.”

But the guilt followed me to bed.

And the guilt was there waiting on my pillow when I woke up.

Oddly enough, I’ve spent this whole week processing the fact that until we call sin for what it is (confession), we can’t turn away from the behavior (repentance), and we can’t find healing our relationships (reconciliation).

Sin always hurts us. God gives us clear boundaries about how to interact with Him and each other, in a way that keeps all the good things in, and all the bad things out. Sin brings bad things into the community.

But God is faithful to shine His big old flashlight on sin and tell us where we’ve gotten dirt on the clean floors. From there we have two options: Say, “Oh! This is dirt! This doesn’t belong here.” and clean it up (restoring the integrity of the dirt-free environment)–or we say, “Hmm. Yeah but it’s just a little dirt. Let’s just sweep it under this rug and call it good.”

We can’t call sin good.

We have to call sin bad.

Confession is where we call our sin “bad,” because we recognize that Jesus calls us to good things.

Repentance is where we turn from what is bad and embrace what is good, knowing that God’s forgiveness and favor is already awaiting us–not more guilt and shame.

Reconciliation is celebrating that where sin came to dwell, God’s making all things well. (That’s probably not grammatically accurate, but it rhymes.) Reconciliation is an acknowledgement that sin was here, but is no more. God always plants good things where sin just wanted to bring dirt.

Christian communities need to be known for these elements. We’re not supposed to be perfect people who don’t sin, we’re supposed to be humble people who confess sin when it happens, repent from it and turn to Jesus, and are reconciled to each other. This process is all possible because God has forgiven us through Jesus.

But there can be no reconciliation in our communities if we cannot call out our sin for what it is.

Let’s be willing to let God show us our sin, so we can release it to Him and thrive in His restoration.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: I texted the person this morning and confessed that I’d lied in our conversation. I told them that I value integrity in my words, and I had fallen short there. I called sin for what it was (sin means “missing the mark”) and turned from it.

Sin is not welcomed here.

It’s exposed. It’s acknowledged. It’s turned from.

…and it’s forgiven.

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