I used to have the habit of picking at my scabs. Mom warned me about it, but I usually forgot, or worse yet, ignored her admonitions. Why didn’t I realize it only caused my wounds to start bleeding again? Truth be told, my idle fingers still find the occasional scab, and without thinking I reopen those old wounds. What is it about imperfections that draw our attention to them?
Jesus’ disciple Thomas wasn’t around when the resurrected Savior first appeared to the others. I’m sure that when he finally saw Jesus, wounds and all, he had seen enough to convince him that Jesus was alive. Yet, Jesus told the doubter to place his fingers into the open wounds, driving His message home with a force like that of the spikes driven through His holy flesh.
Even though He gave my body the ability to heal itself naturally, my interference keeps reopening those old wounds. Similarly, I still bear open wounds from my past sins, but that’s not because Jesus failed to heal them. These bothersome scabs are emotional: shame, remorse, and regret. Since Jesus’ blood already covers the sins that inflicted these wounds, my insistence on “picking” at them makes them fester, causing completely unnecessary pain, and worse yet, forming an artificial barrier between myself and my Lord.
The Prideful Sin of Perfectionism
You’d never know to look at my room that I tend toward perfectionism … spiritual perfectionism, that is. As I read Christ’s perfect law of liberty (the entire New Testament), I can’t help making a checklist of my personal infractions, which in itself is an infraction. Apostle Paul gave us a beautiful, liberating, absolute rule in his letter to the Roman church:
(1) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
(2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Like I said, it’s a beautiful thing. Yet, I read the conditions and wonder if the promise truly applies to me. Am I really in Christ Jesus? Do I really walk according to the Spirit? Only with affirmative answers can I claim that promise.
I have to constantly remind myself that the very fact of my concern along those lines means this wonderful promise is my very own. And for those not-so rare times when I slip up, Apostle John provided an equally beautiful answer:
1 John 1:8-10
(8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
(9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Take THAT, all who stand pridefully in your, “sinless perfection.”
A careful examination of this passage reveals the identity of its audience: we, us. That includes St. John himself. So, if “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was guilty of sinning, what business have I picking at my scabs of imperfection?
The answer is Mom’s admonition!