Earlier today, I imagined myself beginning a sermon in this manner.
I would have an image placed on a video screen, for all the congregation to see, with the image being a listing of the Ten Commandments with a check list beside each individual commandment.
As I would read each commandment out loud I would have a check placed in the yes column as I would state whether I had violated that specific commandment.
Upon completing the list, it would be more than obvious that I had violated each and every commandment as seen by the ten checks in the yes column.
I was guilty of all.
And then right before opening with prayer and the remainder of my remarks, I would quote this scripture.
“And the person who keeps every law but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is.” James 2:10
Earlier today, while cutting the grass I was thinking about sin.
My sin and the sins of others.
Actually, I have been thinking about sin all day.
It began this morning, when on the way to the office, I was talking to a dear friend on the phone.
He and I were attempting to define sin.
Not an easy task.
Not if you are sincere and honest in your efforts.
I have always used James 4:17 as a definition of sin.
“Knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin.”
Pretty straight forward.
Unless, you begin to consider, then what is the right thing?
Then it gets a little harder to define.
If everyone knew right from wrong in every instance there would be no need for punishment of any kind.
The jails and prisons would be empty.
We would live in a utopian society.
But the world is not perfect and neither are we.
So, as I told my friend on the phone, it is much easier for me to confess to being guilty of all, and not try to defend my actions and justify my failings.
And when I stand before God, I will place no responsibility nor blame for my shortcomings upon anyone else.
They are mine.
Which seems terrifying, except for the latter part of verses twelve and thirteen of the second chapter of James.
“You will be judged on whether or not you are doing what Christ wants you to. So watch what you do and what you think; for there will be no mercy to those who have shown no mercy. But if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.”
The naked heart is a heart filled with mercy.
The naked heart is a heart that is in need of mercy.
The naked heart shows mercy so that it might be shown mercy.
That is my only hope.
That is the only hope that any of us have.
My only hope is the mercy of God and the mercy I have shown toward others.
As a young man I had a laser beam focus on the sins, actions and shortcomings of others.
As an older man, I have a laser beam focus on the sins, actions and shortcomings of my own.
I expressed to someone just yesterday, that as my daughter’s grew old enough to discuss sin, I told each of them that I did not have the capacity to be a perfect dad.
I could not show them what a perfect man looked like nor how they acted.
But if they would look at my life with grace, mercy and forgiveness, I would show them what God could accomplish through an imperfect man.
That came from me showing my daughters my naked heart.
If you want your children to see your life as one God can use, show your child your naked heart.
If you want to find a true friend, show that friend your naked heart.
If you want to find God’s mercy, show God your naked heart.
“You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness.” Psalm 51:6
David prayed that in one of the most “naked heart” moments in the Bible.
Nothing held back.