November 10 I Tuesday
“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” —Isaiah 5:21
The first five chapters of Isaiah recount early messages Isaiah gave to the Israelites. Chapter 5, in particular, has Isaiah condemning the people for their proud, immoral and deceptive behaviour. He speaks out against the people for their unfaithfulness to God, but it is not until Isaiah truly meets with God that he realizes he is just as much of a sinner as the rest of Israel. At the sight of God’s holiness, Isaiah’s cry turns into, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5).
This teaches us something vitally important about how we should speak to others about sin. God did not show up and tell Isaiah everything he ever did wrong; rather, merely being in God’s presence was enough to convict Isaiah that he is a sinner. We can only imagine the shame and guilt Isaiah must have felt at that moment, humbly recalling his most recent sermon was basically a list of condemnations for Israel’s many sins.
Anyone who has entered into a moral debate or tried to point out sinful behaviour in a non-believing person will know these are not usually life-transforming strategies. If all we do is tell people they are sinning, but never point them back to God, it simply write us off as being judgmental and arrogant. This is because without a proper knowledge of God, they will think our perspective on morality is just as arbitrary as their own.
Thankfully, in the New Testament, Paul tells us this is not the case: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The word “sin” comes from ancient archery, meaning “to miss the mark.” Whether the mark is missed by an inch or a mile, it is still sin. The mark we have missed is the moral character of God. Just as an archer’s arrow falls short if it misses the target, so too do our attitudes and behaviour when we do not measure up to the target of God’s moral character. This is why we only ever recognize our sin after meeting with God. It is by coming to know Him and discovering His character that we are convicted of wrong living.
This is not to say we excuse immorality, but we must be careful not to let condemnation replace evangelism. As John writes, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). It is only by introducing people to Jesus that the Holy Spirit convicts them, saves them and begins the work of transforming their lives into an ever-increasing image of Christ.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for condemning others rather than introducing them to You. Grant me opportunities to tell others about You and the forgiveness You offer so freely. Thank You, Father.