On this day and in this age, it seems we don't know what to do with our guilt. When I was a kid, we ran and hid if we did something wrong, like Adam and Eve. We made excuses to cover our bad deed. Then not too many years ago, groups "claimed responsibility" for car bombings and such as if to brag about what they had done. Was that just safety in numbers or a shift in thinking? Today the phrase "damage control" has crossed the political landscape more than once as a politician or CEO has had to "walk back" remarks he "misspoke." Where is truth? Where is integrity? Where is forgiveness?
The Bible records the very first murder - a pre-meditated murder. Cain, being jealous of his younger sibling, Abel, persuaded Abel to accompany him out to his field. There he attacked Abel, killed him, and presumably buried him. But guess who saw.
The Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother?" Cain out and out lied. "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" But God persisted. "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground."
If that wasn't enough of a word picture, God pronounced a curse on Cain. He was to be driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive Abel's blood from Cain's hand. God said, "When you work the ground (Cain was a farmer) it will no longer yield its crops for you, and you will be a restless wanderer on the earth." How would you respond to that?
Cain said, "My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land and I will be hidden from your presence. I will be a restless wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me." God assured Cain that he would not be murdered. Then, the Bible says, Cain went out from God's presence.
The Bible records another pre-meditated murder (II Samuel 11:1-12:25) and the murderer's response when confronted by a prophet from God.
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgression. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgression, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge...Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow...Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
What a difference! As we look for leadership in our country, and to those who we would follow, what do we see? Are they (and we) hiding from responsibility, boasting as we claim responsibility, or is there a willingness to bow before God? For what good is there in self-justification? What solace is there in self-pity?
I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness."