It takes a spiritually mature person to recognize the depths of their own sin.
That was one of the things I was discussing with my spiritual director a few weeks back. He was right, and I have been reflecting upon that truth throughout this advent season so far. Advent is an appropriate time for such reflection.
Spiritual maturity is achieved less by becoming sinless (we can’t) than recognizing the depths of our sin.
As I follow Jesus, I am increasingly aware of my sin. If sin can best be understood as “missing the mark” (the Hebrew understanding) or self-centeredness (as modern Christian spirituality suggests), than one of the things I continually realize is that there are pretty much no areas of my life not touched by sin.
When I am honest, I recognize that missing the mark and being self-centered is descriptive of much of my life.
Now recognizing your own sin is not particularly praiseworthy or even worthy of note — but what we do with it might be.
Some people, when faced with their own sin, respond with DENIAL or RATIONALIZATION.
Some people, when faced with their own sin, respond by CHANGING THE STANDARDS.
Some people, when faced with their own sin, respond by EMBRACING DESPAIR.
But DISCIPLES, when faced with their own sin, respond in LOVE & WORSHIP.
The Gospel of Luke (chapter 7, verses 36-50) records:
36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”