Does he who implanted the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?
The LORD knows the thoughts of man;
he knows that they are futile.
If we are setting aside a time of humbling ourselves spiritually before God, if we are observing Lent (Fastenzeit), an essential of that process is to examine ourselves to see how much of our life is spent in futile ways.
“Futile thoughts” is the mindset that omits God and the consequences of unholiness from consideration. Paul wrote that we are to “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is not to put an end to our imaginations, to explorations, nor to leisure activities – the Apostle showed that he was well-read – but that there is a standard by which we can measure all of these activities and that standard is obedience to Christ. God hears and sees all, and true humility takes this fact under consideration, that our lives are completely open before God.
A pastor once told me that among his people he noticed an attitude, that if a sin had been committed in secret, they imagined as though it had not been committed at all. This trait is all too typical of our lives, that our only standard to be concerned about is the knowledge that our family and Christian friends have about our activities. We can harbor impure thoughts that lead to sinful actions, and then go about our business as though nothing happened, because the church did not see what we did. It was in this attitude that David committed his sin with Bathsheba, that he had her husband Uriah killed, and that he brought her to the palace to live there, in the public guise of kingly compassion to the young widow of a fallen soldier. Yet the Bible placed a footnote on this sad chapter of his life, “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Sam 11:27).
True humility before God is our heart’s response to the realization that God sees all. We have the privilege of being able to confess our sins to God, to receive forgiveness and cleansing. We have such an amazing God who instructs us and disciplines us for our own good, that we should turn quickly from our sin, confess quickly to Him, and quickly receive His cleansing. The scripture says, “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). He has promised us grace that can and often will save us from the consequences of our sins, but if the results of our disobedience have already begun to sprout, then He promises us discipline that can restore us to the hopes He has for us.
Self-examination is incomplete without the Spirit shining His light on the impure but hidden corners of our souls. Where have you been blinded to the truth of your life? Now is a time to pull aside from the world’s values, from the self-deceptive denials, and look plainly and openly on what God sees in your heart. What do you see? What is there? Anger? Pride? Judging? Fear? Lust? Laziness? Immorality? Envy? Dishonesty? Who have you hurt? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to confront? Where have you tried to live your life as though God did not exist?
Now is the time for confession, taking to God in prayer what the Spirit has convicted you about. Stay before Him until He lifts you up in your soul and you hear His voice say that you are forgiven and cleansed.
Lord, we thank You for Your grace. Search our hearts and reveal us to ourselves that we might be cleansed and brought back into a right relationship with You. Amen.