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Do I Have a Glaring Fault?

Even our best deeds fall short of perfect. Paul, the Apostle, could cry out “Oh wretched man that I am (Romans 7:24).” And if we imagine better things of ourselves, we would do well to bear in mind John’s words, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8).” A right knowledge of ourselves in this way should keep us suitably humble, prevent foolish boasting, and drive us to our knees and to Christ every day. As Joseph Alleine, the 17th century English Puritan put it, “God finds nothing in man to turn His heart, but enough to turn His stomach.”

At the same time, no Christian is allowed persist in sinful patterns just because, well, nobody is perfect. In particular, it is an essential mark of a healthy Christian that they labor to especially rid themselves of any glaring faults in life. This is what is meant when the Bible describes what is considered acceptable behavior for a believer as “He who walks uprightly (Psalm 15:2).” We don’t regularly refer to one another that way today. We might say “He’s a good egg.” Or maybe “She has a great heart.” Or maybe even “He is a man of character.” And while all those statements are compliments for sure, they miss the point a bit with respect to the idea of “walks uprightly.”

To understand what it means to “walk uprightly” we have to see how this word is more frequently translated. It is actually translated 10 times more frequently by another phrase which you will likely recognize. It is the phrase “without blemish” and is used in reference to the acceptable sacrifices to be brought by worshippers in the Old Testament. The sacrifice was not to have any obvious defect. No broken limbs. No unsightly discolorations. No inherent weakness that would make it otherwise less valuable to the owner. No glaring fault.

So that brings us back to Psalm 15:2 and “He who walks uprightly” with a new perspective and a new question. The question is this: What’s my blemish? Do I have one? Do I have a glaring fault? None of us are sinless. That isn’t the question. The question is “Do I have a notable fault in my life that is evident to those around me?” The answer to this question may be harder to answer than you think. We don’t tend to see our own faults very well. And those we do, we generally minimize or discount as unimportant. But what is implied in the text is that we are without glaring faults according to the opinion and eyes of those around us.

How then do we figure out if we have a “glaring fault?” I know I’m not sinless. But is there some deficiency in my manner of life that is so open and evident to others that it is hard for them to think about me without this crack in my character coming to mind?

We could, of course, if we had the guts, ask a close friend, a spouse, a pastor, a family member. That might help. But keep in mind that our closest loved ones are often unwilling to be “too honest” about such things. Or perhaps they have gotten so used to our defects that they hardly notice them, though they may stand out like a black eye to others.

Another approach would to be think about someone you know who, to the best of your knowledge, has no glaring faults. How does your life and habits differ from theirs? What do they usually talk about…compared to what you talk about (or post about, share about, write about)? What do they seem to do with their free time…compared to what you do with your free time? What kind of friends do they have…compared with your friends? What do they do on Sundays…compared to what you do on Sundays? That last example isn’t simply pulled out of thin air. The context of Psalm 15 and our “walks uprightly” phrase is made clear by the opening verse which asks “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?” The context is worship. We might easily and appropriately expand that to the whole way we treat the Lord’s Day.

I suppose that in addition to either of those things, praying is always a good idea as well. Psalm 15 is a conversation, not between people, but between a man and the Lord. “Lord, who….?” And it is also the Lord’s answer to that prayer, all put into the beautiful words of a song. Maybe it is time to really pray and ask the Lord to show us any glaring faults, blemishes, sins. Then, and only then, may we be said to “walk uprightly”.

Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

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