I attended a funeral for a friend a couple of days ago.
There were easily over 1,000 people in attendance. I didn't know most of the mourners.
Interestingly enough, I happened to run into a pastor's wife from a previous church that we attended for several years.
In the past, she always greeted me with a friendly smile and a sincere, "How ya doing?"
When I saw her, I momentarily forgot that my sin had ever become public. I was taken back to a time when people greeted me with seemingly-sincere smiles, warm hugs and friendly words of encouragement & affirmation.
I smiled, waved, and said, "Hey! How are you?"
She made eye contact with me, gave a semi-polite half-smile, and a trepidatious, "Hi." Then she immediately turned away and briskly walked in the opposite direction.
At first I felt embarrassed and once again ashamed of what I had done.
As I walked into the sanctuary and found a seat, I thought about the way I was just treated.
This is what I deserve. I brought this on myself. How do you expect people to treat you now? You are a disgusting failure, and everyone knows it.
I played the situation over and over again in my head. I thought about the way I had been greeted in the past, before anyone knew what my sins were. I then realized what the 'seemingly-sincere smiles' were all about.
In Christ Jesus, we are all a forgiven 'something,' but very few of us are open and transparent about what our own personal 'somethings' are. We hide our sins and struggles for fear of condemnation and judgment from our family members, friends and peers.
James 5:16 instructs us to "confess [our] sins to each other and pray for each other so that [we] may be healed..." As a society, we are in much need of healing.
Topics that make us uncomfortable (pornography, lust, sexuality, adultery...etc) are buried beneath 'seemingly-sincere smiles,' and false 'friendly words of encouragement & affirmation.' We present ourselves to most fellow brothers and sisters in Christ on a level of shallowness that makes Satan smile with utmost sincerity.
There is so much I can now relate to as I consider Jesus' words, "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32b). I am free from the bondage that the secrecy and hiding of my sins caused. It feels good. I don't walk around with a weight on my shoulders anymore. I want to encourage you to live out the promise of freedom in Christ Jesus through confession, transparency and accountability*.
While we recognize Jesus as the epitome of truth, we should reflect that truth in the way we relate to others, even if it is uncomfortable or embarrassing. The more we "carry each other's burdens" (Galatians 6:2a), the more we are able to hold one another accountable, and stop sin dead in it's tracks.
*A word of caution: Men should be accountable to men. Women should be accountable to women - unless you are a married couple. In a marriage, a husband and wife should be accountable to each other. There's nothing wrong with having an outside accountability partner as well, but it cannot be with a member of the opposite gender. This protects the integrity of everyone involved.