Sin Destroys Peace With...
I was seething with anger. How could this person be so selfish? With much emotion, I told God exactly how I was feeling. Alone. Affronted. Disregarded. Hurt. With the bitter taste of tears in my throat, I croaked the word again: Selfish. The situation felt so unfair! With my next shaky breath came a question that exposed something about my own heart:
“God, what about ME??”
(I sensed His gentle answer as another question: Are you sure there’s only one selfish person here?)
In God’s gentle question back to me, He stopped me in my flailing, wailing, and finger-pointing and showed me the role my own sin was playing in the painful fracture between me and my friend. Both of us were focused on ourselves and feeling ripped off, and as a result, both of us had thrown up our defenses and retreated to a safe distance. As long as we each continued feeling entitled to our defensive stance, there would be no peace.
What about ME?
Sin is first of all selfish. Sin says, “But what about ME?” Way back in the garden, when Eve was tempted by the serpent to doubt what God had said, he got to her by dangling this little carrot:
Genesis 3 : 4-5, NASB
“The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
She believed Satan’s lie that God was withholding from her—withholding something awesome—and it was the death of her and all of us.
We still take that bait, and it’s not all that hard because we have this sinful nature that is naturally bent toward seeking the answer to that same question. “What about ME?”
Where does “What about ME?” get me?
One of the crappy things about sin is that it alienates. As was the case in the conflict I was having, sin destroys peace with others. A “me first” attitude is a relational poison that causes hurt and kills intimacy and trust. In that conflict I was having, neither of us could see past our own “what about me?” to the needs of the other person. Neither of us was seeing the situation clearly. Sin is always at the tangled root of an unresolved conflict (see James 4:1).
We all know that sin alienates because we’ve all been hurt by someone else’s selfishness. It’s so obvious when I’m not the one who’s being selfish, right? I’m oh so aware of the sting when I’m on the receiving end of this kind of sin. But when it’s me being selfish, me who is doing the hurting, it’s amazing how right it can feel. How entitled I can be. “Well of course I’m right in this situation!” “How dare he/she treat me that way?!”
Thank God our sin doesn’t have to be the final answer in conflict. Maybe reading this, you are thinking of a broken relationship in your own life. Maybe one you have given up on. Just as God gently coaxed me out from my defensive posture by graciously showing me my own sin, He desires to do the same for you. He is the restorer of relational peace and supernaturally provides a way for us to have real closeness with others.
Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me from a “me first” way of life. I’m so grateful for all the ways you richly provide for me so that I don’t have to approach relationships from a position of deficit, scrambling and scraping to meet my own needs. You are a giver, not a withholder. Your generous grace toward me is what enables me to live as a giver, not a taker, and to experience real closeness with others. Thank You for that grace.