People, as a rule, are quite messy. I’m not talking about the face plant your one-year-old does into his cake for his birthday, although digging Duncan Hines remnants from a baby’s nasal cavities is pretty gnarly…
I’m talking about full-grown adult mess. Before your mind jumps to the mess next door, consider your own. Speaking for myself, I am a deeply flawed person. I struggle with things that affect my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. While you and I may not suffer from the same maladies, the safe money is on you being a little messy too.
Relax… you’re in good company. Consider some of the people in the Bible:
Noah was a drunk.
Moses and Gideon were driven by fear.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Jonah ran away from God.
David had someone killed to cover up another mess.
Peter was emotional and impulsive.
You can add to that list a host of Type A personalities (like Samson, David, and Paul) who were frequently more self-confident than God-dependent.
So what do we do about our fatal flaws? Is an “aw, shucks–that’s just who I am” response sufficient, or does God have a plan for our weakness? I think He does, and here’s how you can open the door for God to allow Jesus’ power to be perfected in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10):
- Call it what it is. Own it. Name it. My tendency is to justify my weakness by comparing it to someone else (“I’m not as bad as he is…”) or pasting a nice-sounding label on my problem (e.g., “I’m not gossiping; I’m sharing prayer concerns”). That won’t work. Our flaws are the byproduct of sin and sin is really ugly stuff. The toughest part of overcoming the mess is the brutal honesty of naming it.
- Confess it. God knows we’re messy–that’s why He sent Jesus to rescue us. In my experience, confessing my mess to God isn’t something I do only once. I continually invite God to remind me that His plan is much better than my selfish desires. I’ll ask Him for the awareness and the courage to run away from my flaw and run toward Him (“repent” is the Bible word for that concept.)
- Bring it into the light. I know that with God all things are possible, but don’t think you’ll be able to overcome this through semi-regular visits to your prayer closet only. God designed us to live in community for many reasons, of which one is to spur each other on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). What’s the best way to do that? Find a couple of buddies and form a trio group – you can see last week’s post about how to make it happen, cap’n.
It turns out that Hannah Montana was right (ugh): nobody’s perfect. That’s why God sent Jesus–the mess can be redeemed. Overcoming an old way of living can be a long process, but we serve a patient and loving God and you’re part of a loving and gracious church family who is here to help you walk through, and clean up, the mess.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray,[v] but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25 CSB