Written by Mark Farnsley
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13
This proverb covers some topics about which I might ask“do I really need to be reminded about that?” As I thought about that uncomfortable question, I remembered a unique experience I had many years ago when I was testing to get my CDL license. One part of the test was parallel parking a tractor trailer. The parking spot was marked with lines and cones and the tractor trailer had to be inside the marked box, within a certain number of moves, without any part of the vehicle extending over the lines of the box. It was ridiculous. Who needs to do that? I needed to do it, or else I could not get the license I needed. But there was one provision that really helped: The “get out and look”. Up to three times, I could set the brakes and walk around the space and see how I was doing.
We were cautioned early in this Proverbs series about the dangers of pride. That problem can slip in so smoothly that we don't recognize it's power to deceive us. Letting go of pride means I “get out and look”. I set the brakes on my own story and thoughtfully admit that finding my way to God's wisdom each day is the only goal that really matters. I need reminded about the things God knows are really important, and I need the ongoing willingness to admit my real situation is that without God's help my thoughts aren't good! Translation: Without God's help my thoughts are bad!
Many years ago I made a note next to Proverbs 28 verse 13 in my Bible. It said “I John 1:9”. Verse 13 in this Old Testament proverb reminded me of the New Testament 1st John passage I had previously memorized. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When I looked again at the 1st John verse I saw the preceding thought in verse 8 “ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Without my admission of self-centered thoughts and my need for God's forgiveness and wisdom, I'm living in denial of sin. Not just sin in general, my sin. And when I do confess my sin and need, his grace fills my mind with peace as I delight in his mercy, and wisdom rules my thoughts.
The details of the sequence to park that semi really mattered. I needed exact turns of the steering wheel combined with careful movements a certain number of feet using specific reference points, or it just wasn't possible to pass the test. The details of the Bible matter, too. God's shared thoughts on any topic we encounter in this proverb: rebellion , rulers, the law, justice, faithfulness, parents, generosity... all are the reference points, the signals for us to “get out and look” at ourselves and the story we think we are living, and see things the way they really are! His ways and his thoughts are the story and nothing else really exists in any meaningful way.
“Do I really need reminded about that? ” Yes. I definitely need reminded about that.
Prayer: “Lord, you are completely aware of how quickly my thoughts can stray and pride creeps in. You know exactly what I need to keep my thoughts and actions true to your best ways, so I admit again how much I need you and I thank you for the gift of your guiding wisdom. Amen”