Responding well when our sin is pointed out to us

Responding well when our sin is pointed out to us

We are all sinners who do terrible things. Most Christians would agree with that, but we cannot keep it abstract. I am a sinner who does specific things that hurt other people and hurt God, and sometimes I know what I have done and sometimes I do not. I cannot see my sin as clearly as those around me can. This means that all of us need people to point out our sin to us.

Have you ever had that happen to you? I do hope that you have. If you’re married, your spouse is bound to point out things you have done wrong or forgotten to do. If you live with your parents, there will be times they (hopefully in a loving way) will correct something you do. Those tend to be hard conversations. It takes some courage to start a conversation like that, and it takes humility and grace to respond to it well.

The Bible gives us many examples of sinners being confronted with their sin. Let me give you two that didn’t end well:

  • Eve was confronted by God after she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. She blamed Adam, who blamed the serpent. It was someone else’s fault. Yet each of them was guilty and faced a curse for their actions.
  • King Herod was confronted by John the Baptist for his unlawful marriage to Herodias, who was his brother’s wife. Herod used his power to shut John up, throwing him in prison. Instead of responding to the charge, he managed to suppress the complaint.

We can react in these kinds of ways too. It is so easy to blame our circumstances, our tiredness, our being provoked, or any of a hundred other things for what we have done wrong. It is easy to avoid that friend who loved us enough to point something out in our lives. In more extreme cases, we can attack the one who points things out to us, pointing out what they have done wrong. None of these reactions admits our wrongdoing or takes any action to fix anything. We remain right in our own eyes.

King David is a great example of responding well to sin being pointed out. David was a sinner; with Bathsheba, he broke most of the commandments in one afternoon. When the prophet Nathan pointed out his sin, he admitted what he did was wrong (2 Samuel 12:13). He penned Psalm 51. He recognised that he would face a penalty for it and repented of it. It was too late to change things, but David learnt how deep his sinful nature went, and he humbled himself before God.

Next time someone builds up the courage to confront you about your sin, don’t shout at them. Take a deep breath. Perhaps they are right; perhaps they are incorrect. In any case, the conversation requires thought and self-examination. We all know we are sinners; maybe this is an opportunity to grow in faith? Don’t lose the opportunity to learn more about yourself and to come before God. Understanding our sin should make us even more aware of how much we need a Saviour.