On Being an Old Sinner

“The experts have no corner on wisdom; getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense.”  Job 32:9

A few years ago, Lynette and I went to a nearby town on a date. We saw a movie and went to dinner and then to Lowes to buy blinds for our house. The blinds needed to be cut to our specific window dimensions and so I asked a Lowe’s employee to help us.

She came to our aisle and answered our questions. She was clearly a woman but was more tomboyish than normal. She was very polite and helpful. When it came time to thank her for her assistance, I glanced at her name tag wanting to call her name when I said thanks.

Her name tag said, “John.”

I paused. I said thank you but couldn’t bring myself to call her name.

There is much about gender confusion that I don’t understand. But here is my spiritual battle: Part of me felt a certain level of condemnation toward John. Part of me wanted to stop and tell him/her to stop behaving badly. But another impulse came to the surface of my soul that said, “Why don’t you silently pray for this broken person.” So, I began to pray for this person named John. Then the Holy Spirit thumped me on the back of my head and said, “Why don’t you just pray for this soul who is made in my image and leave the word “broken” off your prayer? I don’t need you to point out to me in prayer who is broken and who is whole.”

I am a mess.

We like to say all the time, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” How about we just love the sinner? Isn’t that what God did for us in Jesus.

A spiritually growing person is not someone who repents less and less, a spiritually mature person is somebody who repents more and more the longer they walk with God.

The older I get the more my sins are not so many sins of doing, but sins of being. I am not tempted to lie, steal, murder, or commit some sexual sin as much as I am to get defensive about a theological position I hold or one that you hold. My sins are more of being stubborn, obtuse, and opinionated. That is not who I want to be, but who I often am.

How much more winsome would my faith be if, when I am criticized, I chose to be curious about the criticism as opposed to defensive about it? I want to be the kind of person that admits when they’re wrong and is gracious about it. But, sadly, when I admit I am wrong, it feels like I have ceded hard-fought ground in some imaginary war and I put up my defenses and hold fast.

In some families, bringing up topics of discussion around faith and politics is like walking barefoot across a darkened room where your grandkids had played with Legos the night before and never put them away. It is a room of pain.

I want my sons, who have radically different views about everything theological and political, to still want to talk to me about anything in their lives. A conversation I hope they never have between brothers is, “Well, Dad is so set in his ways that there is no talking to him about this issue.” I don’t want there to be anything that is off-limits in conversation with my sons. Sadly, I won’t know if that is actually true unless I ask them. And I don’t want to do that either.

Is it possible to develop a way of living where one can be more supple in their soul? Can they be more and more teachable? Can they become more curious and less judgmental? Can they be more concerned about the grace of a situation rather than the truth of a situation?

These questions have helped me:

Where did I best reflect Christ today?

Where did I bring joy to someone?

Where did I feel the most joy?

Where was I more condemning and less curious?

What moment today would I most like to change?

When did I least reflect Christ?

What made this moment so difficult?

Age alone is no guarantee of maturity or freedom from error. It would be wonderful if I could announce that as we grow older, we automatically grow up, or that the longer we walk with the Lord the more we are guaranteed immunity from sin. That is not the case, however. We will never be immune from sin’s appeal. Often those who fall the hardest are those who have walked with God the longest.

More questions:

Where are you?  Genesis 3:9

What do you want?  John 1:38

Can you drink the cup?  Matthew 20:20-23

Do you love me?  John 21:17

At least if I honestly ask myself questions, I might stay flexible enough to change.

Lord, my greatest fear is that my blind spots will grow larger with each passing day. Holy Spirit, open the eyes of my heart and shine the pure light of your love in my soul to reveal the truth about who I am and who I am becoming.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

And bless John, no matter where he/she may be.

About Joe Chambers

I am the beloved of the Most High God. I am an avid reader and writer and have been a continuous learner since my college studies in Ancient Literature and English. I live at the base of Mount Princeton in the Colorado Rockies with my wife of over three decades. I believe I have been put here to tell people that God is not mad at them and to show them the way Home. I am the father of three sons, three beautiful daughters-in-law and four grandchildren. I love to read, tell stories, and spend time in the wilderness.
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2 Responses to On Being an Old Sinner

  1. kennybmoore@kbmail.us says:

    One of your best!

    Thanks, Joe.

    Kenny Moore

  2. Scott Murray says:

    Ugh, you brought up a topic I like to avoid. I was in the practice of doing the daily examen and stopped a year or so ago. My reasoning was really lame, but I know it was because I didn’t like what I was discovering. Restarted it after feeling convicted by your post, still not happy, but learning to see God’s love in this, His redemption and the opportunity to mature spiritually. You are a blessing.

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