Most of us have probably heard the term “skeletons in the closet.” The phrase came to mind as I was watching a Criminal Minds episode with my teenage daughter. The Season 9 Finale included a quote by Émile Zola that really did a number on my heart. It speaks of the law of sowing and reaping:
“If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.”
Sowing and reaping is a law of the natural world. Galatians 6:7 says,
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Unfortunately, when I hear this phrase and verse my sinful heart is quick to think of the skeletons in someone else’s closet. Sins committed against me. But, when we choose to focus on the sins of others and not to deal with our own sin, that sinful root can grow within us and cause us to run far from the things of God.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:4)?”
As followers of Christ, our heart’s desire should be to bring truth into the light.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light (Ephesians 5:13).”
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves (1 Peter 2:16).”
Bringing truth to light involves confessing our sins to God and confessing our sins to others.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”
When a brother or sister in Christ stumbles and falls, it also involves restoring that individual by speaking truth in love.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would [an unbeliever] (Matthew 18:15-17),
“…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15).”
Truth brings freedom. Scripture tells us in John 14:6 that Jesus is Truth.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
As sinful human beings, it’s important to remember that we’re all doing life on an even playing field. Not one of us is without sin (Romans 3:23); however, In Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of sin. Confessing our sins to God and to our brothers & sisters in Christ helps to hold us accountable and build community.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:22).”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).”
The Lord may be teaching you the hard way, through the natural law of sowing and reaping, that there are consequences for sinful behavior. Don’t let this set of circumstances cause you to become critical and judgmental. Instead, allow it to bring you closer to God. Let it be an opportunity for God to increase your faith and learn to hear His voice. God will forgive us of our sinful ways. He will heal us and restore our relationship with others and with Him, but first, we must allow truth to come into the light.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”
Lord, I thank you for the finished work of the cross. Shower us with the liberating truth of the gospel and your life-breathing grace. Help us to trust and treasure you above all other things. Give us a heart that is quick to repent when we are wrong and forgive when we are sinned against. In Jesus name, Amen!