Guys, your sin is not a private matter. It hurts everyone around you. The questions I would ask you to ask yourself are these: Is the power of sin at work in my life? Am I being honest about myself? Am I struggling with anger? Am I harboring bitterness? Do I have a critical spirit? Does my wife have my permission to speak to me about these things? Or is she afraid to bring anything up to me because I’ll snap at her or shut her out?
Men, what does God want you to do when you find the power of sin at work in you? Do you have the right or permission to isolate your heart when someone tries to come near? Are you justified telling your wife’either explicitly or by your actions’to get used to it, and join you in covering it up for the kids’ sake? The answer to both questions is a resounding ‘No’! The Lord is clear and consistent on what he wants from you: ‘Be earnest, and repent.’
Yet so many Christian men feel that their wives shouldn’t confront their sin, but should instead keep their distance, remain silent and silently pray. Well, praying silently and doing nothing more is God’s plan for dealing with the hard hearts of unsaved husbands! So if you already acknowledge Christ as your Lord and Savior, expect and be open to connection with your wife and friends. You really don’t have a license to shut out the people who love you and are reaching out to you. Take a step to be open ‘ to be humble, to be a man of God, in Christ!
Sometimes forgiveness involves pain. When we confront people regarding betrayal, abandonment, abuse, deception, or other offenses, we’ll likely experience sorrow. We need to accept this as part of the consequences of sin and learn to freely express it to God. He can transform the pain associated with wrongdoing and bring about good for everyone involved.
Remember men: not all sorrow is bad for you. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth that made them sad because he confronted them about wrongdoing. He initially regretted hurting them. But after reflection he wrote these words, which you can find in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10: ‘Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed’in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow.’
The grief Paul described was good. It was caused by his love for others in action, and accessed in light of honest self-evaluation. Like Paul, we too must learn that sometimes sorrow is a positive part of our spiritual growth. So when you’re confronted with it, don’t run from it and don’t reject it. Enter into it asking God to use it to direct the course of your life along redemptive paths.
We all have inherent weaknesses that make us vulnerable to particular kinds of sin, don’t we? That means something that’s a snare for one man may be completely harmless for another. But one thing we all have in common is that we each must accept responsibility for ourselves. That means you need to guard against anything that exploits our weaknesses and provides a situation where it will be easy for you to stumble into sin.
It’s a mistake to think that temptation only exists outside of us. Problems happen when things outside of us stir up and stimulate dispositions already resident within us. James 1:14-16 says, ‘Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled.’
Men, part of taking responsibility for your own sinful desires means you need to identify and avoid locations, situations, or people that trigger temptation. It’s not always easy. Often such things seem innocent enough, and sometimes they’re things in which we find comfort’or escape.
But as difficult as this may be, it’s essential that you know yourself and your weaknesses well enough to know what is dangerous, what is harmful, and what is simply a waste of your time and energy. You’ll avoid a lot of grief and pain simply by avoiding those things that provide the opportunity and occasion to stumble.