Today we’re going to be talking about finding the courage to face our faults. We all have them. Faults aren’t necessarily sins. They’re basically character weaknesses or personality flaws. They’re like a virus that you’ve picked up along the way, a habit that you’ve formed over the years without even noticing it. It might be the way you clam up and withdraw into yourself when you don’t like what someone is saying or doing. You might even use that behavior to try to punish others by refusing to talk to them, giving them the cold shoulder. It might be the mood swings you go through or a bad attitude you carry around with you. That’s called “sportin a tude.” And it makes others think you’re a turd. It might be that short fuse you have that leads you to explode on others. It’s just part of who you are.
A fault may well be unintentional. You don’t even know you’re doing it. But others see it. They see that fault line in your personality, that crack in your character that gets bigger when you’re under pressure. A fault isn’t in and of itself a sin, but it can lead you to sin. It will be along that fault line that a shift takes place and you cross over into sin. It doesn’t matter whether your sin is intentional or unintentional. It’s still sin. In the fourth chapter of Leviticus the Lord tells Moses what must be done when people sin unintentionally. A whole chapter is devoted to the kind of animal sacrifice that must be offered for unintentional sin. When a fault leads you to sin, even if it’s unintentional, it is still sin and must be atoned for. The Lamb of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, his blood atones for our sin, both intentional and unintentional.
It’s very important for us all to have the courage to face our faults. Those faults will keep us from being the people who can win others to Christ. They won’t keep us out of heaven, but nobody will want to go to heaven with us. You’ve heard it said, “Some people brighten up the room when they enter it and others brighten up a room when they leave it.” If you don’t have the courage to face your faults, you’ll be in the group that brightens a room when you leave it. You’ll still get to heaven, but the angels will say, “Oh no. Here he comes.” We’ve all have faults we need to face. God wants us to have the courage to face our faults. He wants us to be like David and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and see if there is any wicked way in me. Lead me in your everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:1)
In the New Testament we are commanded, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you. If not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” (2nd Corinthians 13:5) He’s here! He’s among us. He’s living within us. As we draw upon His strength we find the courage to examine ourselves and face our faults. When He is absent from us, we fail to have the courage to face our faults. Apart from Christ we tend to deny our faults. “Who me? I don’t have any faults. There’s nothing wrong with me.” Or we become defensive and put up our guard. We wall ourselves off from others who make us uncomfortable by pointing out our flaws. They don’t even have to say a word. We see ourselves in them and don’t like what we see. Or we see the absence of our particular fault in them and we don’t like it. By contrast we are forced to awareness of our shortcomings. God doesn’t’ want us to deny our faults. He doesn’t want us to defend them or rationalize our faults. He certainly doesn’t want us to blame our faults on others. “I’m this way because of him!” “She makes me this way!” No. God wants us to own up to them.
IT TAKES COURAGE TO RECOGNIZE YOUR FAULTS. The test of whether your faith is genuine is not that you’re perfect. The test of genuine faith is that you’re willing to be perfected. It’s so much easier to recognize the faults of others than it is to recognize our own. It’s so much easier to put the blame on others. That reminds me of the guy who went to the doctor and said, “Doc, I’m really concerned about my wife. I think she’s losing her hearing. I ask her questions and she doesn’t answer me.” The doctor tells him to have her come see him. “I’ve tried. She says she doesn’t’ have a hearing problem.” So the doctor tells him to do a little test. “Stand about ten feet behind her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t answer, stand about five feet behind and ask her the same question without changing the volume of you voice. If you don’t get an answer, stand about two feet behind her and ask her the same question. Then you’ll have some idea of how much hearing lose she has.” So the guy goes home and he does what the doctor told him. His wife is standing at the stove fixing dinner. From ten feet away he asks, “Honey, when do you think supper will be ready?” No answer. So he moves closer and asks, again. No answer. He moved within two feet of her and asks, again. She turns around and says, “For the third time, in about ten minutes!”
The Bible tells us to examine ourselves, but we find it much easier to examine others and blame others for any difficulty in our relationships. And that’s always were our flaws are revealed—through our relationships with others. If we stay away from others, we can go on thinking we’re flawless and without fault. Some people choose to do that. They go through life without letting others know who they are. They put up a good show when their around others. I was talking one of my husband’s cousin the other day and she told me about the little church in Putneyville where her grandparents were members. There was a man in that church who used to stand up and pray and he would go on and on and on. As a child visiting her grandparents, she would go to church with them. It was a wonderful experience except for this guy. When he would stand up and start praying, she just wanted him to stop. It was painful to have to sit there while he went on and on. When the man eventually died, they found kkk robes in a closet in his house. Nobody knew. He went to his grave with his secret sin. He never let others close enough to know his flaws and help him to recognize his spiritual blindness.
There’s a story in John’s gospel about a man who was blind from birth. Jesus healed the man. Now the guy could see, but Pharisees were angry because Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath and that was against the law. So they took out their anger on the man who was healed and threw him out of the temple. He came back to Jesus and received a second healing. Jesus removed the spiritual blindness from the man so he could see who Jesus really was and believe in him. He told the man, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39) There were some Pharisees listening in on his comment and they immediately became defensive. It says, “Some Pharisees who were with him heard [Jesus] say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’” (John 9:40-41)
God is saying you’ve got to recognize your limitations. You’ve got to acknowledge to Jesus that you’re blind and need his healing. You’ve got to recognize your faults and confess your sins before you can be healed and forgiven. Our faults will damage our relationships and they will keep us from realizing the promised life God offers us.
One of the apostle Paul’s helpers was a guy named Titus. Paul left Titus behind after their initial visit to Crete so that the work they began could be continued. Apparently it was a notoriously difficult place to nurture a church. In a letter to encourage Titus, Paul acknowledges how difficult the people of Crete are. He writes, “One of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.”—Titus 1:12-13 Here’s the point: if you don’t let other’s help you recognize your faults, you’re not going to get rid of them. We all need people in our lives who can speak the truth to us in love. We need to give somebody permission to speak into our lives the truth about what they see in us that needs to be worked on. Titus had a tough job. He had to confront the people in his church because they were all compulsive liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons. Paul is saying, Titus, you can’t hold back. You’ve got to confront these people about their flaws. If there is any hope of their becoming sound in their faith, solid in their thinking, they will need to be rebuked, sharply rebuked where there’s no wiggle room. To rebuke someone means to express sharp disapproval or criticism of a behavior or actions. Paul’s saying, you got to really let them have it if there is any chance they’re going to have a sound faith.
We all need to give people permission to speak the truth to us about our faults. These people have to love Jesus and love you, in that order. If someone really loves Jesus, then they know how important it is to speak the truth. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” If you really love Jesus, then you will love the truth and you will speak the truth in love. We need people who will do the difficult work of helping us to recognize our faults. We all need a Titus in our lives. Today it may be one person and tomorrow it may be another. It may be through a sermon or a song. It may be through a book or a conversation. We all need to give others permission to speak the truth to us.
Once we have the courage to recognize our faults, then we need the courage to work on our faults. IT TAKES COURAGE TO WORK ON YOUR FAULTS. It has to become a priority in our lives. Our faults can be so hurtful to others. They can lead us to sin and leave us with broken relationships. They can rob us of the life God wants us to live, a life full of promise and hope. Our faults will keep us from knowing Christ more fully. That has to become our highest goal. The apostle Paul said, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.”—Philippians 3:8
IT TAKES COURAGE TO FOLLOW GOD’S GOAL FOR YOUR LIFE. It’s not for those who are seeking an easy path through life. There are preachers who preach a prosperity gospel. Come to Jesus and all your problems will be solved. If you follow Jesus, he will make your life easier. Christ makes everything more convenient. You’ll have more money. You’ll be more successful. Everything will be great. You’ll be able to retire early and do the things you really want to do. This preacher is not going to tell you that because it’s not true. That’s not what God promises you. That’s not God’s goal for your life.
GOD’S GOAL FOR YOUR LIFE ISN’T LEISURE, IT’S LIKENESS. He desires to mold and shape you into His likeness. He wants you to become like Him. The character of Christ is forged in you through the difficult trails of life, as you depend on Him for courage and strength to go on.
GOD’S GOAL IS NOT THAT YOU FEEL BETTER, BUT THAT YOU FOLLOW BETTER. When we go through challenging times and we don’t understand why bad things are happening to us, please know that God is working on you. He’s getting you ready for what lies ahead. You can’t see that, but he can. He’s working on your character so you can be prepared for what lies ahead. The Bible says, “…put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24) That’s what God wants for us. He wants us to work on our faults so we can put them off and be done with them. He wants us to put on a new self and he’s going to help us do that.
The Bible says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
FINALLY, GOD WILL REWARD YOUR COURAGE AND YOUR EFFORT. When you make the effort to work on your faults, you can be sure that God is going to reward you. He will bless your obedience. He will take those faults and he will work with you to turn them into assets. He will take your weaknesses and work with you to turn them into strengths. He will take your sorrows and work with you to turn them into joys. He will take your fears and work with you to turn them into faint memories that no longer disrupt your life. The Bible says, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purposes.” (Romans 8:28) This is one of those passages that unless you look at the original Greek, you miss so much of the meaning. The Greek words translated as “works” are “sun” meaning together, and “ergon” meaning “work.” Literally is says “God is working together with those who love him for their good. It is a cooperative effort – God working together with us for our good.
I know you’ve all heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” Something like 49% of Americans think that is a verse in the Bible. Well, it’s not. Don’t mean to disappoint you. But if there is a verse that is close to that it’s Romans 8:28. We must work with God to become the people he wants us to be. We have to make the effort to recognize our faults and work on them with God’s help and with the help of God’s people who love Jesus and love us.