Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:2-16, Lamentations 3:19-24, Acts 3:19-20
Have you ever been confronted by somebody when you knew you were in the wrong? As a counselor, there have been many times when I’ve witnessed a spouse calling out their partner for some glaring, painful sin. When this happens, I’ve consistently seen one of two reactions take place: ownership or defensiveness. It’s hard to hear the truth about ourselves. To not only stare our failure in the face, but also have somebody else observe it too, can feel shameful.
Whether we respond with ownership or defensiveness is a matter of the heart. Of course, all of this is presuming the confrontation takes place in a godly manner. I’m not talking about unhealthy conflict or persecution that is neither godly nor loving. But when our flaws are confronted or even rebuked in love, as Paul did with the Corinthians, how we respond shows what we believe about the gospel. Are we going to allow the Spirit to convict our hearts, or are we going to cover our ears and point the blame elsewhere?
While it’s scary to admit we don’t have it all together, when we do acknowledge our sin we can turn toward Jesus in repentance and know we are forgiven. When our sin saddens us, we experience “godly grief,” which “produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthian 7:10).
This is a heart pain we will never regret. If we’re not torn up by our brokenness, we won’t understand how badly we need to be saved from ourselves. As Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
If we’re honest, it’s exhausting, trying to “manage” our sin and remain pure in our own strength. Luckily, it’s okay to admit we’re a mess! If we didn’t have a forgiving God, that would be a different story. But Scripture tells us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Because Jesus’ sacrificial blood covers us so completely, the Father will never again look on us with anything but steadfast, unwavering love.
We can take responsibility for our wrongdoing because our God is outlandishly gracious. Of course, we shouldn’t abuse the Lord’s grace by purposely sinning (Romans 6:1–4). But when we do fail, we can remember the story of the prodigal son returning home and his forgiving father running toward him, arms opened wide to welcome him (Luke 15:20).
In the same way, our Father in heaven runs to embrace His returning daughters. When the Spirit convicts our hearts, we ought to lean in to that godly grief with nothing to fear in Christ. Our sins are already forgiven in the finished work of Jesus. When we turn to God in repentance, we are returning our gaze back to the One who longs to be gracious to us and show us compassion, over and over again (Isaiah 30:18).
Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Kaitie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.