Explaining away my sin was easy.
I had just done the unthinkable: violated someone’s trust. But I wanted to blame them . . . to rationalize that it was their fault. Sin had once more darkened my conscience.
Why did I want to justify my sin? Because it was easier to see someone else’s wrongs than to admit I was the one who had transgressed. We all have our blind spots and our secret sins that enslave us. We compare ourselves to others and say we are not as bad as them. Or we excuse our sin as a mistake. At the opposite end is thinking some portion of our righteous acts will earn us God’s favor. All these efforts are dead ends.
Jesus saw the heart of the tax collector who had undoubtedly cheated and stolen from numerous people and had sold out to the Romans. All he wanted was to start over, have a clean heart before God, and imbibe the mercy of his Creator. Probably grasping for words, he must have trembled when he bowed and prepared his contrite prayer.
God is not impressed by our fancy words, much less deeds done out of a sense of regret or obligation. He is interested in our sincerity and vulnerability, our opening up that we are a part of the problem of sin in the world. Only when we own up to that can we experience God’s grace and forgiveness.
Are you willing to ask for God’s mercy for your wrong? Stop defending yourself and run to your heavenly Father.
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Marcellus George is an author and a professor of theology. He and his wife are thankful for their adopted twin sons. He enjoys writing and reflecting on all the things God has done for us in adopting us. You can connect with him on his website, "Lessons From the Adoptive Journey," at https://marcellusgeorge.com.