I got scratched this week by one of my students. It wasn’t a huge deal because it comes with the territory in my field of special education. But as I glanced at the inch-long scab on my hand, beginning to look puffy and red, it suddenly struck me how alike are my scratch and sin. Let me explain.
Toby (not his real name) didn’t intentionally hurt me, yet in a moment of agitation, he lashed out. Regardless of his intent, his fingernail left a bleeding one-inch slash on the back of my hand. When Toby realized what he had done, he tried to cover my hand by pulling down my sleeve. He spoke, “Don’t let anyone see it,” in his semi-robotic voice. I covered the scratch with a band-aid, but that was equally distressing to him. Toby rubbed the band-aid as if the wound underneath would disappear. I attempted to explain that, while I knew he didn’t mean to hurt me, he had indeed scratched me. No amount of rubbing, covering, or patting would make the scratch disappear. In fact, until the correct medicine is applied, and the proper care given, it is not going to heal. In fact, it’s going to fester.
Fester – (from Dictionary.com)
Now how is that like sin? Well, we usually don’t plan to sin. We don’t wake up each morning thinking, “Let’s see what sin I can commit today!” On the contrary, our goal as Christians is to sin less each day. But suddenly that temptation is in our faces, and regardless of our intent, we sin. “I can’t let anyone know,” we think to ourselves. So we try to hide our sin. We cover it with superficial dressings – church attendance, special music, donations – knowing deep down that no amount of works will make the sin disappear.
Instead of repenting, we rebel. Oh, maybe not consciously, but perhaps we ignore the sin. We pretend it doesn’t matter, or that God knows we didn’t sin deliberately. We make excuses. So, what happens?
Remember my scratch? It began to fester. Our sin – that we didn’t intend to commit – is doing the same. It is forming pus, causing an ulceration, putrefying in our hearts. The attempts to cover it are useless. Until the correct medicine is applied, and the proper care is given, our sin will continue to fester. We may pretend it isn’t there, just like Toby did with my scratch, but that doesn’t change reality.
The good news is that God has provided the remedy for our sin.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.