Psalms 141:5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
For the last two weeks I’ve been involved in a counseling ministry with a group of prisoners at Belle Isle Correctional Facility. This program uses Biblical stories to help offenders get a clearer understanding of how their actions affect victims, and prepare them for life following incarceratoin.
this morning we went through an exercise thinking about excuses Zacchaeus may have made for taking extra tax money
- People disrespected him
- He had debts to pay
- In younger years he didn’t have much
- Somebody else would get the job anyways (why not him?)
- And he was trying to motivate others to fight against Rome
it was interesting through the exercise to find Zacchaeus had some good, legitimate reasons for doing what he did. And those reasons became rationalizations (excuses) as to why his sin wasn’t actually a big deal.
As we finished the session it seemed as if the men started to grasp how excuses (even legitimate reasons) kept them from seeing how their actions affected others.
It was a blessing to be used by God to show their excuses didn’t make sin right. But it was also a reminder that each one of us hide behind our excuses occasionally.
the words of David in Psalms 141:5 are strange because he calls smiting a kindness! In my personal opinion he is referring to a reproof (confrontation) that points out sin that needs to be dealt with.
This confrontation is a blessing because its goal is to bring repentance and growth in a persons life (Galatians 6:1) instead of tripping the person up spiritually (Psalms 140:1-5). Though painful, those experiences restore the relationship with God, and fellow Believers.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we can go around being “Jerks for Jesus” and condemning everyone that we see. But I’m afraid the awkwardness of these confrontations keeps most Christians from doing it at all.
The point is cutting through someones excuses and revealing their sin is a kindness, even if they don’t feel that way.