A Pastor’s Midweek Message
“We Are Sinners”
The Apostle Paul makes the claim we have all experienced so well: that even when we are trying to avoid sin, we end up sinning (Romans 7:15-20). We sin even when we are in holy places and spaces – even in God’s very presence! We are sinners.
Even when we try to say the right thing, our sinfulness makes us say the wrong thing. Even if we said the right thing, someone’s sinfulness makes them hear the wrong thing. We are sinners.
We sin when we deliberately set out to do wrong; we sin when we genuinely intend to do right. This truth not only reverberates through our lives, but it shouts its warning daily. While boasting that we are better than someone else, or someone else’s religion, or someone else’s race, or someone else’s country, we are sinning. While disagreeing with someone, and find it insufficient to simply say “I disagree” but go on to say “you’re a liar” or “you’re an idiot” or make some other incorrect judgment about someone, we sin. We are sinners.
This is why Jesus taught us to pray as SINNERS: Forgive us . . . as we also have already forgiven. The fact that he teaches this immediately after Give us this day our daily bread implies that we should pray as sinners daily, just as we depend on daily bread. We should seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness daily, because sinning and being sinned against is a daily occurrence. We are sinners.
We may not kill someone, but we are sinners. We may not bear false witness, but we are sinners. We may not “mean to do it” but we did it, and we are sinners. We may not be Republicans, but we are sinners. We may not be Democrats, but we are sinners. We may not be Muslim, but we are sinners. We may be Christians – lifelong Baptists – whom the Spirit indwells, but . . . we are sinners.
So my friends, this week, pray as sinners.
• Acknowledge that you owe God everything.
• Admit that you have offended God.
• Accept the offering of God – God’s absolution, God’s acquittal, God’s forgiveness.
• Forgive completely. This may involve days of work, not just one simple event.
• Forgive chronologically: give others your forgiveness first; then seek God’s forgiveness after.
• Forgive credibly: if you’re seeking God’s forgiveness while there is anyone from whom you are withholding your forgiveness, you are not credible, and you are sinning! We are sinners.
Praying as a sinner will in fact return you to praying as a sibling (because by forgiving others, you reclaim and nurture our siblinghood under Our Father who art in heaven) and as a student (as you research, rehearse and reflect God’s hallowed/holy name). It returns you to praying as a soldier (because by confessing sin, you protect the kingdom of God within you).
Count your sins before God, even as you count your blessings.
Instead of busily counting someone else’s sin, count your own.
Seek to forgive someone this week before you seek God’s forgiveness.
We. Are. Sinners.
Rev. Dr. Michael Friday