It’s human nature to point fingers at other people, without finding fault at our own end of the finger. Some people live their whole lives without dealing with the monster within their own souls. They don’t see their problem-they just experience the consequences of their failings, and blame others for them. The wreckage they leave is often not visible to them, but it’s very tangible to those they’ve damaged-sometimes for a lifetime.
I was thinking about someone I was once very close to, and looking at the trail of wreckage she has left all the way along in her life: broken relationships, broken people, offended family members, lost homes, lost jobs, and worse. At this point in her life she seems unaware that any of the problems were caused by her. It’s always someone else’s fault. It was always her that was wronged. In no part of her life, it seems to her, was she responsible for what happened.
It’s always easy for us to see the faults in other people, but we don’t see them in ourselves very well, if at all. On top of that, our pride prevents us from even beginning to consider that what happened may have been at least partially our fault. And here I’ll freely admit that I am one of the guilty. When I allow myself, I catch a little glimpse in my mind of what I may have done, not just to one person, but to a whole string of people, in the course of my life. However, examining what happened closely is painful and embarrassing and demeaning: it doesn’t fit with the way of today’s life which says it’s all about me, and that others don’t meet my standards. We all make excuses for ourselves.
How will I ever truly confront my own dark side? As tough as it is, it has to be done, because if we don’t tackle that monster; that habit of destruction or of neglect or selfishness, we will continue to wreak havoc, and the consequences will affect us as well as others.
There are many reasons why Jesus said that we have to repent. It’s not just so that we can get back into a right relationship with our creator-it’s so that we can become more Christ-like, which is what our God wants in us. It’s so that we can stop damaging other people; so that we can stop giving our God a bad name that He does not deserve.
In prayer and meditation on our God and His words, we can face up to those monsters within us. We have to first acknowledge that we may be at least partially responsible. We have to ask ourselves if what happened with so-and-so could have been avoided if we were more caring and less selfish. And we have to make ourselves do what we can to at least try to mend bridges and to heal hurt souls. It takes humility, resolve, and determination, along with a daily walk with God. Don’t believe those preachers and believers who say “It’s all God”, meaning that only God can change us. If that were the case, Jesus would never have said that we need to repent, and Peter would never have written this:
For this very reason, make every effort to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins (2 Peter 1:5-9).