WHEN SIN BECOMES SECONDARY TO IMAGE
Jessica Albritton, Family Connections Minister, LHBC
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
“Yeah, this is Valdez. We’ve … should be on your radar there. We’ve fetched up, hard aground, north of Goose Island off Bligh Reef and … evidently … leaking some oil … “
On March 24th, 1989 that call was made from on board the Exxon Valdez, a US oil tanker, after striking Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The result, nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean. At the time it was the worst man-made ecological disaster in the country’s history. The spill resulted in the injury of 28 types of animals, plants, and marine habitats and cost Exxon countless amounts of hours and revenue to clean up. On the surface it looked as though Exxon cared about the damage it had caused, but years after the spill a recording was released between Exxon officials discussing the matter. In the recording Exxon spokesman Don Cornett is quoted saying, “It doesn’t matter if they are really picking up … a lot of oil … It makes a real bad impression with the public, without any activity going on.” What the public found out after the fact was the company was less concerned with the actual clean up and more with the perception of their efforts. Even company officials went on record claiming the actual recovery of oil and the money spent had become secondary to the clean-up of Exxon’s public image. As you can imagine the leaked recordings did not do well to bolster the company’s favor with the American public.
I believe as followers of Christ it can be so easy to fall into the same trap. Worrying about our Christian image, that which the world sees, more than our heart, the thing that the Lord sees. In Matthew 4:17 Jesus calls believers to repent. That word means so much more than we often give it credit for. I believe so often we get that word mixed up with confess. You see, the word confess simply means to admit, to tell the truth about what is going on. We get that, that one is easy. What we often neglect though is the repent part. You see, repent requires more. To repent we must change the way we do things, change the way we see ourselves, and change the way we see God. When we confess without repenting we just give lip service and it can often give a false sense of what is going on in our hearts. It can make us feel better, sure, but simply admitting something doesn’t change us. When we have unconfessed sin, and an unrepentant heart it festers. It begins to harden our heart towards God. And you can fake it for a season but that sin always finds a way of seeping out into areas you wish it wouldn’t.
Exxon learned this the hard way back in the 80s. You see, they confessed it, and even put on the facade of remorse but it was all a PR stunt to soften the blow of their mistake. When the tapes leaked the whole world saw there was no true repentance. Friend, there is something more catastrophic than an oil spill. Unconfessed sin and an unrepentant heart does more damage than any amount of oil in the Atlantic ever could. What do you need to repent from? Is there hidden sin in your own life? Sin that you keep locked away and hidden from the world? Confess it to God today but don’t leave it there. Repent and turn away from it. Let Him purify your heart, cleanse you and make you whole!
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Heavenly Father, reveal to me the hidden sins in my life. Open my eyes to the things not repented from. Father, help me to not just admit when I have been wrong but also turn from it. Change my way of thinking about sin and change my way of thinking about You! In Jesus name, amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
James 5:16- Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.