When I am scrolling through social media instead of doing something productive with my life, occasionally I see something that actually makes me think.
I saw a meme about accountability:
At the time, I thought, I must send this to my children so I don’t have to listen to them drone endlessly on about how whatever it was wasn’t their fault.
But then I started a Bible study in Nehemiah and I had to take a long look in the mirror.
The book starts with Nehemiah in Babylon. He is one of the Jewish exiles and he is King Artaxerxes’ cup bearer. His brother has been in Jerusalem where the remnant have just returned but it is a broken down shell of a place. Imagine going back to the ruins of your city after World War II. It’s destroyed. The people are broken. Nobody knows where to even start re-building the city, let alone themselves.
On hearing how bad things are, Nehemiah prays and fasts – for four months. That’s quite a commitment to faithfulness. He puts this situation before God, as well as the response he is thinking of. All of it is laid before God as, through prayer, he aligns himself to God’s will.
Part of his prayer acknowledges God’s character – he is great, awesome, faithful, full of love. God can do all these amazing things because he IS amazing.
And then he says this – “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you” (Neh. 1:6). “Confess” here is casting down, or throwing down. It is active and definitive. There are no qualifiers or excuses.
We broke the egg.
How many times have I prayed to God and either forgotten to ask forgiveness altogether, or sort of asked, but not really taken responsibility?
How many times have I genuinely humbled myself before God and just said, Dear God. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I broke the egg.
Not nearly as many as I should.
But God is gracious. And if we pray and ask for forgiveness, it will be granted. The Israelites were exiled to Babylon, whereas we have Jesus who intercedes for us. We don’t need to be afraid. We just need to be faithful.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jon 1:8-9)