What is your reaction when a friend confides, “I’m going to be very frank. There’s something about you that I wish were not true”? If he has a compliment, you are only too glad to have him say it; you don’t even draw him apart from the crowd to hear it. But how hard it is to have your faults pointed out. We all have a built-in resistance to seeing our shortcomings.
We react to reproof as we react to pain. The tendency is to shrink away, to protect ourselves from what we wish were not so. James bluntly described our sinful nature in his epistle:
But what about the feuds and struggles that exist among you-where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don’t get it; you are murderously jealous of what others have got and which you can’t possess yourselves; you struggle and fight with one another. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask He doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit–you only want to satisfy your own desires (James 4:1-3).
Reproof, however, is good – like the surgeon’s scalpel or the dentist’s drill. The process is painful, but the result is health.
In human relations, it appears more sensible – at least easier – to ignore one’s own fault or that of another. But the results are strained relations, strife, discord, and personal misery. A simple, effective alternative is, “If we walk in the light as He [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
As the truth about you emerges from some probing stimulus, you will either face it directly or turn from it. You will mellow or harden, depending on what you choose to do about your discovery.
John wrote in his first epistle:
If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward–He forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we take up the attitude, “we have not sinned,” we flatly deny God’s diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what He has to say to us (1 John 1:8-10).
You will get fleeting glimpses of your true self (and sometimes a very clear picture) as you interact with other people, as you read the Bible, and as the ministry of others touches your life. The natural reaction is to shrink away from your findings. But you need not run from yourself and thereby add trouble on trouble. The resources of heaven are yours to apply against the character defects you discover. Jesus died to forgive your sins:
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
Furthermore, God will give you daily strength if you let Him:
“Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:13-14).
“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
This information is an excerpt of chapter 3 from Dr. Brandt’s book, The Struggle for Inner Peace, currently available as an e-book.