Blind Spots, the Psalms, and Confessing Our Sin

by | Jan 7, 2020

Editor’s Note: Our friend Courtney Ressig has a new book out: Teach Me To Feel: Worshiping Through the Psalms in Every Season of Life. In it, she explores twenty-four psalms and the emotions they generate, encouraging readers toward faithfulness to God. We encourage you to check it out, and we are delighted to post this reflection she wrote for us on Psalm 19!

A few weeks ago I was driving down a familiar stretch of road and suddenly needed to switch lanes. I turned on my signal, glanced in the rearview mirror, and proceeded to make the switch to the other lane. Out of nowhere (it seemed to me) a car appeared. I immediately swerved back in my lane.

We call these blind spots. The limitation of our eyesight keeps us from seeing a full range around us, leading to near accidents on the road. If I had been able to see the car, I would never have attempted to change lanes. If I had been able to see the car, I would never have come so close to harming myself and others. My sight was impaired by my blind spot, and as a result, those around me suffered.

We are prone to blind spots in other areas of our lives. Our sight is limited by our experience, so we miss things that might hurt those around us. We are wealthy, so we miss that even the casual suggestion to grab lunch can cause anxiety for our friend with less financial means. We are married, so we miss the loneliness that can come when we cancel church events on Valentine’s Day. Or to put it even more bluntly, we are white, and we miss that our experience in America is vastly different than our brothers and sisters of color.

The Bible is clear that our flagrant sin must be confessed (Proverbs. 28:13, James 4:17, 1 John 1:9). But what if you are unaware of your sin? What if your blind spot is causing you to swerve into the lane of another brother or sister in Christ, causing them great harm? Does the Bible speak to our blind spots?

We tend to know what to do with obvious sins. The Bible calls for repentance from any number of outward, obvious sins: Sexual immorality, unrighteous anger, lying, and many others. But sin that is hidden, even by ignorance (a blind spot), is also confronted by scripture. God is holy, and he calls us to be holy (Leviticus 19:2). We are far from holy, so we often sin in ways we aren’t even aware of because our sinful nature runs deep (Romans 3:23). All the way back in the Law, God made provision for unintentional sin—sin that was not owing to meditation or intentionality. Our hearts are deceitful and hard to understand (Jeremiah 17:9), so we are in need of redemption even over the things we don’t intend to do—even over our blind spots.

The psalmist understood this well, when he cried out:

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults. –Psalm 19:12

Psalm 19 is a rich meditation on the word of God. After speaking of the value of God’s word and the treasure that it is for the believer, the psalmist speaks to the piercing effect of the word. When we stand before the holy God of Psalm 19, we are all condemned. Even our blind spots need a substitute. Even our thoughts need a mediator (Psalm 19:14). Your words might condemn you in more obvious ways, but when you hold up the mirror of God’s word, the very thoughts of your heart—your blind spots—need prayer for cleansing.

I often say: “If I knew what my blind spots were I would fix them.” It’s why they are called blind spots. We are unable to see them until it’s too late, and we are in the lane of someone else wreaking havoc on his or her life. The psalmist seems to understand that there are things that he will do that are offensive to God, but unknown to him. And he is seeking forgiveness from these hidden sins—these blind spots.

I think one of the more sinister forms of racism in America comes out in the form of blind spots. I say this because I have seen it to be true in my own life. I would scoff at you if you in any way insinuated that I am a racist, or have racist tendencies. But I would be also lying to you if I did not admit that I am a product of the culture in which I have grown up. I am a white woman who was raised in a white family in a moderately privileged context. Even in the best of circumstances, we are all products of living in America, a country that gained its prominence on the backs of enslaved Africans. My “hidden thoughts” contain more bias than I would ever say with my lips. My hidden thoughts contain fear, prejudice, rash judgment, and even a savior complex. My hidden thoughts keep me from seeing the reality around me. Like my blind spots in driving, they hurt me and they hurt others.

The psalmist had the humility to acknowledge that there will be sins he commits that he is unaware of. If he knew them, he wouldn’t need to pray to be kept from them. If he didn’t commit unintentional sins, then he wouldn’t need a sacrifice to cover those sins. We need the same humility. We cannot see the depths of our hearts, but God can, and he provides a way forward for us through Christ. In Christ, our unintentional sins are paid for. In Christ, our blind spots are exposed and then covered by his blood. In Christ, we are given a path towards walking in sight, letting our hidden sins be exposed so we can be made whole.

For the Christian, the humble response is to acknowledge that we have blind spots. Like the psalmist, we must stand before the word of God and let it expose our sinful biases towards those unlike us. Like the psalmist, we can also stand before the word of God and find forgiveness (Psalm 130:4).

 


Prayer Requests:

  1. Ask God to expose your hidden thoughts regarding those who are unlike you, and ask Him to make the meditation of your heart pleasing in His sight.
  2. Ask God to give you sight in your blind spots and the humility to confess them.
  3. When you feel the weight of your sinful blind spots, ask God to remind you that with confession there is full forgiveness in Christ.

 

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Author

  • Courtney Reissig

    Courtney Reissig is a writer and bible teacher living in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the proud mom of four sons, happy wife to Daniel, and author of three books: The Accidental Feminist, Glory in the Ordinary, and Teach Me to Feel: Worshiping Through the Psalms in Every Season of Life. They are members of Immanuel Baptist Church. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram (@courtneyreissig).

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