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2 Chronicles 28:9-11 • The Oldest Excuse

“But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out to meet the army which came to Samaria and said to them, ‘Behold, because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand, and you have slain them in a rage which has even reached heaven. Now you are proposing to subjugate for yourselves the people of Judah and Jerusalem for male and female slaves. Surely, do you not have transgressions of your own against the Lord your God? Now therefore, listen to me and return the captives whom you captured from your brothers, for the burning anger of the Lord is against you.'”
    —2 Chronicles 28:9-11 (NASB)

There is a very strange argument which I can now see is as old as time itself and goes something like this: “I know I’m sinning but look at him, look at what he’s doing; he’s much worse than me“. I have always been perplexed by the rationalization that no one is permitted to point out a sin or weakness on the basis that there are others in the immediate vicinity with sin and weakness of their own. I suppose it reveals that there is a basic deception in force that renders the bearer blind to the repeated biblical teaching that each will be judged individually and not exempted from the consequences just because others have been doing the same or worse.

I will admit however, that in certain situations I do understand this reasoning. There are times when we have destroyed our own credibility by engaging in the exact behavior we subsequently tell others to cease doing. It is difficult to have a convicted thief tell you to stop stealing, or a documented adulterer to scream you should stop having an affair, or a corroborated liar to challenge your own difficulties with the truth. We are doing no one a favor by destroying our own testimony with the precise behavior at some future point for which we’re confronting fellow offenders. I suppose there’s a valuable lesson in being personally faithful so as to maintain a credible witness.

But the bottom line truth is that it does not absolve either party from the “transgressions of your own against the Lord your God“. The fact is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” :”(Romans 3:23)”: and we are never going to be in perfect standing when bringing attention such issues or when others do the same for us. Even if it is the same sin or worse, there is an obligation to still resolve the issue, to still tell the truth. I would suggest however, that this is why in such situations God’s Word advises it be presented with humility and in full admission of our own shortcomings. We never want to do what Israel was about to do to Judah and take advantage of another’s sin in order to experience personal gain by it. In the end we’re all sinners who need to experience the same benefits of the grace that will overcome that sin.

So for the record I’m going to state that I’m a sinner and have been very far from the perfect role model who, from a human point of view, is qualified to point out anybody’s shortcomings much less biblically defined sin. It is necessary from time to time to do it, but not only have I never found any pleasure in such things, whenever it has been necessary my conscience is always quick to remind me of my own glaring imperfections which are usually closely related to the subject at hand. As we find ourselves in the position of having to point to someone else’s sin we should always go into it with the full knowledge of our own history to ensure that we’re not trying to extract something for ourselves out of someone else’s situation just because this one time it doesn’t happen to include us personally.