Wednesday, May 17, 2017

a time to repent, and a time to refrain from repenting

The Word for today:
Psalm 6

In the famous opening lines of Ecclesiastes chapter three, we read that there is a time for this and a time for that:
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.

Well, the following line isn't in Ecclesiastes, but it could be:
A time to repent, and a time to refrain from repenting.
As I write this, I'm in trouble again.
Trouble follows me, like metal filings incline towards a magnet: if I'm over here, trouble leans this way; if I'm over there, trouble leans that way.
Most of my trouble comes from my own wrongdoing.  But I can even get in trouble for doing right.  Lies have gotten me in loads o' trouble, but the truth has gotten me in more trouble than you might think.
As a Bible teacher, I'm a Truth-teller.  Any faithful Bible teacher must determine not to notice who's in the room.  Truth is universal and impartial, and thus is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34);  truth should never be tailored to fit the "room."  But you can get in a passel of trouble when you practice that precept.
I've been asked on various occasions to apologize for something I'd said.  If what I'd said was just mean-spirited or nasty, then I have (usually through clenched teeth) attempted to repent.  But when it's truth that I'm in trouble for--because the truth ruffled a feather or two--then I must run from even a hint of apology.
For if you apologize for telling the truth, the truth will be taken from your mouth.  (That isn't in the book of Proverbs, but it could be.)
Psalm 6 is a repentant lament, often included among the "Penitential Psalms" (with Psalms 32, 38, 51, 102, 140, and 143).  These Psalms remind us that when we do wrong we should say we are sorry.
But when you are in the right, don't you dare "do" Psalm 6; don't you dare repent just for the sake of getting along.  Unwarranted repentance turns the truth inside out.  Truth will flee from you if you treat her the same way you'd treat any lowdown, low-life lie.

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