I Repent, No Excuses

Regret… godly sorrow… for all the times of living as though I didn’t need the presence and power of Jesus Christ to keep me.

Regret… godly sorrow… for my cynicism.

“While purporting to “see through” others’ facades, cynics lack purity of heart.  A significant source of cynicism is the fracture between my heart and my behavior.  It goes something like this:  My heart gets out of tune with God, but life goes on.  So I continue to perfrom and say Christian things, but they are just words.  I talk about Jesus without the presence of Jesus.  There is a disconnect between what I present and who I am.  My words sound phony, so other’s words sound phony too.  In short, my empty religious performance leads me to think that everyone is phony.  The very thing I am doing, I accuse others of doing.  Adding judgement to hypocrisy breeds cynicism.

All sin involves a splitting of the personality–what James calls being “double-minded” (4:8).  If we become proud, we have an inflated sense of self that has lost touch with who we really are.  If a husband watches porn online and then warmly greets his wife, he has created two people–one public and one hidden.  If you talk about friends disparagingly behind their backs, you’ve created two personalities–the loving friend and the gossiping friend.  You try to keep the personalities separate by telling those to whom you gossip, “Please keep this in confidence.”

We first see this split immediately after Adam and Eve sin.  Their friendly, walking-with-God selves are replaced by hiding, naked selves.  God’s searching question, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9), attempts to expose this fracture of the two selves.

Repentence brings the split personality together and thus restores integrity to the life.  The real self is made public.  When the proud person is humbled, the elevated self is united with the true self.

In contrast, cynicism focuses on the other person’s split personality and need to repent.  It lacks the humility that comes from first taking the beam out of its own eye.  Jesus says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5)

(Excerpted from A Praying Life, ch 10, Paul E. Miller)

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