Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
(Psalm 26:1, NLT)
How I would love to be able to pray that prayer.
But really, truth be told, when push comes to shove, in the midst of an argument, in a moment of weakness, or in a stressful situation, I might act without much integrity.
My pride kicks in. I forget to turn to the Lord.
And instead of responding with integrity and trust, I respond with self-preservation and in selfishness, seeking my own gain and pretty much not considering those around me.
Oh I’d love to come to the Lord and beg him to declare me innocent.
To assure me I wasn’t the one in the wrong.
To pat me on the head and agree that someone else was at fault.
To sympathize with my wounded ego.
To say yes, I am entitled to my hurt feelings and angry retorts.
But He doesn’t.
I get a loving eyebrow arched my way and the question, “Really, daughter?”
Then the Holy Spirit begins to prompt me with truths I have learned.
Your pride will result in disgrace (Proverbs 8:13), destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and humiliation (Proverbs 29:23)
Your harsh words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1) and anger stirs up strife (Proverbs 29:22)
And only fools give full vent to anger (Proverbs 29:11)
So, I have to confess. I am anything but innocent.
“But,” I say.
“But,” He says, “what do I say?”
I sigh. Because I know what He says.
Be kind to others, tenderhearted, forgiving others, as I in Christ have forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
If you forgive others then I, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)
“How often should I forgive?” I ask. He says “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21b-22)
Not only that, but
If you confess and forsake your transgressions, you will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
If you confess yours sins, I am faithful and just and will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
You can’t keep it secret, but you need to confess your sins to another. (James 5:16)
If someone has something against you, you need to stop what you’re doing and go and make it right. (Matthew 5:23-24)
And no procrastinating, you need to do it while there is still daylight (Ephesians 4:26)
Sigh. How is it I might start a conversation with the Lord defending myself, only to find He somehow, lovingly, moves me through the gamut of my emotions, efficiently removes all my excuses, and brings me to the point of seeing what I did wrong, giving me the desire and strength to confess and make it right?
How? Because He is God. Why? Because He loves me and does not want to leave me in my pit of self-centeredness. Instead, He draws me into His love and His way of doing things.
Heavenly Father, Search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23)
Grace & Peace