“Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4)
Oh, how it might be different if we saw sin the way David wrote about it in Psalm 51. Sometimes it took him a while to recognize his sin and who his sin offended, but David always got there. Unfortunately, many of us never get to that point. All sin first and foremost is against God. Seen or unseen, known or unknown, God sees it and knows it. However, for some reason we have this idea that our “hidden” sins—hidden in the sense that few if any know about them, or are sins that don’t necessarily affect anyone else—are somehow of less importance to God. You know the ones I’m talking about: the lie you told, that sexual indiscretion. How about that questionable tax deduction or that fake expense you submitted on your company expense report? How about that anger, even if only in your heart, toward your spouse, parent, or child? The list goes on and on.
“Against you, you only have I sinned …” (Psalm 51:4) David likely wrote this psalm as a result of when he was exposed as an adulterer and murderer by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:1–14). Guilty of many sins in his life, this particular episode might have been David’s worst by comparison, but that’s the point. Comparisons are not what we should be making, but we do. Our tendency is to say, “He committed murder, he should be sorry for that.” Somehow in our minds we look at sin and too often categorize them into “big sins” and “little sins,” acting as if one is more of an insult to God than the other. By the way, as it relates to the issue of murder, remember what Jesus said: “You have heard it said … you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. But I say to you everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22). The point Jesus was making was that anger and hatred carry similar motives as murder, and the attitude one displays in their anger or hatred carries the same kind of guilt as the act of murder itself. You will not find anywhere in Scripture where Jesus ever minimized one sin relative to another.
Our Lord has set a high standard, and just as David did, you and I have broken that standard. As he came under conviction of sin, David repented and recognized that though he had sinned against others, more than anything or anyone else he had sinned against a holy God. Upon his repentance, David always found God ready to restore him.
If only we had the same attitude toward our sin. If only we could just realize that in our own lives and recognize that whether “big” or “small,” all sin is an offense to God. What would happen in our lives, and in our relationships with others, if we had enough appreciation for our relationship with the Lord to be totally undone at how our sin affects Him? It wouldn’t make our sins toward others less important but more important. How we relate to others is always dependant on how we relate to God and the view we have of Him. See Him as holy because He is.
We have a gracious God who has forgiven us much. He stands ready at all times to forgive and restore us to a right fellowship with Him. He has provided the means of that forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ. So, as the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, don’t make excuses, don’t compare offenses as lesser or greater. Honor the work Christ did on your behalf and recognize your need to seek forgiveness—forgiveness of others, of course, but more than that, forgiveness of God.
Father God, thank You that You forgive my sin. Thank You that You gave us Your Son who lived a perfect life and died on the cross, only to be raised that I may live. Help me to not try negotiating as to what type of sin offends You the most because they all do. You are holy. Help me recognize that while yes, I have sinned against others and I need to seek their forgiveness, first and foremost I have sinned against You. Fill me with Your Spirit that I would recognize this each day that I live. Amen!