The Bible uses the phrase “justification” a lot, by faith in Christ’s one full sufficient, sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction we are justified thought Faith, justified means that we are put right with God, our relationship with him is restored, in fact some have commented that being justified by Faith in Christ we are before God “JUST-IF-I’D never sinned”.
I began to think of the whole concept of justification, when we mess up we try and justify ourselves, I was tired, it’s everyone else’s fault, I’m misunderstood or whatever… Yet self justification often is our way of not taking responsibility for our actions, not owning up to our share of blame or culpability.
Yet this is why “confession is good for the Soul” as when we confess our sin to God we can’t fob him off with excuses or bend the truth in our favour, he’s not fooled by us, nor can we pull the wool over the eyes of the all knowing God.
The Anglican liturgy say “we confession that we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness and our own deliberate fault”… It is owning our sins, taking responsibility for our actions and behaviour and when it falls short of the standard we know the Father wants from us and coming before him with the bravery to say “I sinned, I did wrong”… scripture say “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (self deluded) and the truth is not in is, but, if we confess our sin God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
Honest confession to God is showing a self awareness of our life and our spiritual walk, it takes bravery to admit to ourselves and to God when we haven’t got it right and done all that we should have done, or done what we ought not to have done.
This isn’t a flippant thing, or at least it shouldn’t be…
Yet we are called not just to be honest with ourselves or with one another, but also requiring that level of honesty and authenticity with one another, we can’t confess and say sorry to God, we can’t just know our own faults in our own heads and not let that effect our relationship with one another. We need to be people brave enough to admit we are wrong, to say we are sorry, to acknowledge our imperfections, fallenness and our humanity, in a world where nothing is ever anyone’s faults this is radically different and counter cultural.
Yet people might be saying I’m not apologising for things that aren’t my fault, there are times when people hurl accusations at me which aren’t justified, sometimes the right and honourable thing is to justify yourself and argue your corner?
I think that is a broken and messed up world, people do sadly tell ties and embellish the truth and try and re-write history and point the blame elsewhere.
Yet when we are faced with criticism what do we do? Are we able from our place of security in God to wade through what might be a tough challenge but one we might need to heed and what is slander, even if someone is 90 per cent wrong there is still 10 per cent we could learn from.
At college when I was training to be a vicar we were urged to be reflective practitioners, stepping back and reviewing situations and often ourselves within the situation, a great question to ask is “what can I learn from this?” Or “what is could God teach me through this?”
We have a rational and logical reaction after we have had an emotional one, yet too often we speak from a place not of prayerful reflection and wise review but from the pain of raw emotion. Criticism too often hurts us deeply as often it is levied at something we have worked hard at or invested a lot in, and sadly all of us to some degree struggle too with the sin of pride which often blinds us to our own faults and failings but conversely helps us to see the flaws and failing of others far more vividly, pride distorts our vision and dulls the voice of Gods still small voice whispering in our ear.
Our justification of ourselves comes from our own identity and self worth, yet as someone once wrote “the person who kneels before God can stand before anyone”, we are justified by God, made righteous in his sight.
Our identity doesn’t rest on the shifting sands of what other people think of us, instead let us be secure in who were are in Christ.
That doesn’t mean we never apologise for getting it wrong, in fact quite the reverse, but it shows strength is showing the “weakness” of apology, but in admitting our faults is liberating, it reflects a beautiful integrity and authenticy to a world desperate to but fearful to experience such a thing. More over it frees us from the slavery of our value being dependent of what other people think of us.
Yet in the cases of slander and vilification, it’s trusting that one day God will justify us, knowing that ultimately what matters most is not what those around uaa think, but living for the audience of one. God is a God of vindication and justice, his spirit is the spirit of all truth, he sees and he knows what is true. He is a faithful God. When I felt hurt about something when I felt unfairly treated on one occasion I was given this “the Lord will fight your battle you only need to be still” -the problem with this was that everything within me wanted to justify my behaviour and fight back, yet this shows my heart that at times our reputation can matter more that Gods opinion of us, God who sees the heart.
So, let’s us come humbly and openly before the God who justifies, let us know the power of his forgiveness spurring us on to live differently, not seeking our own justification from ever situation but rather letting even our critics teach us lessons.
Knowing we are justified by God gives us the bravery to let the walls down with others, be vulnerable and willing to say the word “sorry” the hardest word to say to others and the hardest word to say to God, the reason it is so hard is because it means we have looked at ourselves and have had the bravery to see ourselves not as we want to be but actually as we are, removing the rose tinted glasses.
Let us with Gods help take this brave look at ourselves as we come to the God who brings his forgiving, restoring grace, in whose redemptive work upon the cross we are justified.