I Know Your Big Secret

I know your big secret. I know something about you that I’m guessing you spend a lot of time and energy trying to hide. You might even try to hide this truth from yourself.

A few examples may help explain.

Steve Jobs was the visionary co-founder of Apple and the driving force behind several products that have changed how the world uses technology. He’s had successes that most can only dream of. But at one point, his difficult personality helped get him booted from his own company.

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest world leaders of the 20th century. His courage and fortitude helped inspire Great Britain to endure and eventually triumph in the terrible struggle of World War II. But years earlier, he also pushed for one of the greatest disasters of the first World War, an effort that cost him his job and tens of thousands of men their lives.

Those are examples of high stakes failures, but what about something that hits a little closer to home?
I once went on a mini-tirade when one of the automatic staplers in our office wasn’t working. Turns out it wasn’t plugged in. Yes, I was that guy.

It’s a silly example, but that’s kind of the point. As I look back over my life, I know I have a thousand stories like that one. Stories that show all my foolish choices, my ignorance, my incompetence, my character deficiencies. Why, parenting alone….

And you know what? The same is true of Steve Jobs and Winston Churchill. Sure, their weaknesses might be different, the consequences sometimes larger, but the overall picture is the same. Because the same thing is true of everyone. The same thing is true of you.

That’s the big secret, isn’t it? That truth is that all of us want to present a certain image to rest of the world. We want people to see us as smart, competent, successful, skilled, dependable, and impressive people. (Just think of what people put on their Facebook pages.) But so often we’re not those people. Deep down, you know that’s true. And we’d be filled with embarrassment if people really knew our big secret: that our lives are often a big pile of mess. 

But can I tell you another secret? All that foolishness and failure in your life can be a very good thing, so long as it does a few important things, namely:

1. If it encourages humility and a desire to seek guidance and help from God.

Taking an honest stock of your life, do you really think you’re qualified to be in charge of your own life? No, our track record should humble us, it should encourage us to look to someone higher than ourselves to guide and direct our lives.

And guess what? The Bible tells us that while God opposes the proud, he gives grace to the humble, answering prayers for guidance (like Psa. 143:8-10) and continually offering his unerring perspective through his word (Psa. 119:105).

2. If it encourages us to treat others with more patience, compassion, and grace.

When we realize we stand in need of those things all the time, it can be a bit easier for us to extend them to others that we may be frustrated with. In other words, it can be bit easier to love our neighbor as ourselves.

3. If it leads us to find encouragement in the good news of the gospel.

Why do I say that? Because the gospel says that God loves his people in spite of all their many shortcomings. And that’s incredibly important. Because the most foolish thing we do is to disobey God, the source of all goodness and wisdom and life.  

But when we believe the gospel of what God has done for us in Christ, we find the forgiveness and acceptance that we desperately need from the one person who matters most. And so we don’t have to be discouraged by our failures and mistakes. Because even though he sees all of them, God favors us with a love deep enough to send us his Son, with a love that he’ll never take away.

And that gets to the heart of why the gospel is good news.

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