Within Christianity, there is a practice called confession. Upon confession, we ask God for forgiveness of sins. I’ve stopped doing this. Here’s why:
I’ve messed up again. I can’t believe I did it again. I told myself I would stop. I’m so angry at myself.
These are things that usually run through our minds when we find ourselves trapped in the same sin we thought we could stop. You know what I’m talking about. Maybe it was a New Year’s Resolution. Maybe you got caught and said you would stop. Maybe you’ve told yourself you are going to stop before someone finds out. Maybe you just came back from a conference and are on an emotional high and are ready to conquer the world. Whatever your motivation, we have all found ourselves in the place where we look at ourselves in the mirror and curse because we gave into “that” sin again.
And thus the cycle begins again. “Lord, I’m sorry.” “You are forgiven.” “Well, maybe just one more time…” “Lord, I’m sorry.” “You are forgiven.” “Well, I’ve gone for a long time without doing it, so just one more time won’t be an issue…” “Lord, I’m sorry.” The only thing that changes is our justification for falling back into the sin.
But what I found, for me at least, is that my seeking forgiveness was more about me than anything else. Sometimes, seeking forgiveness can be the most selfish thing we do. I felt bad because I told myself I would stop. I failed. I thought I had conquered that sin.
Seeking forgiveness stems from a recognition of personal failure. So seeking forgiveness, many times, stems from selfishness. What I am asking is this: Do we seek forgiveness because we recognize what we have done to the Kingdom or our community? Or do we seek forgiveness because we had such a high view of ourselves that we would not mess up again? For a lack of self-discipline?
We seek forgiveness because of personal failure. But failure isn’t personal. Failure affects everyone. So when seeking forgiveness, it cannot be for personal failure. Seeking forgiveness has to be about community. Something larger than yourself. Otherwise, seeking forgiveness is selfish. Who are we to think that we could live life without sin? Who are we to think that we could conquer sin? Who are we to think that we can control the sin in our own life? It is out of our control. It is only through a supernatural power, being the Holy Spirit, that sin can be controlled.
Here’s the point. I’m tired of seeking forgiveness because I’ve messed up. I’m tired of saying the same prayer that I won’t do it again. I’m weary of it all.
What I cannot tire over is recognizing the fact that my sin affects others. My anger hurts others. My cynicism depresses others. My sarcastic language can cut others (it would help if they would stop taking everything personally).
Our sin directly affects others. So seeking forgiveness cannot be personal. It has to be outwardly focused. Otherwise, it is selfish…and wouldn’t that make it a sin?