“‘Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely it is not I, Lord?’” Matthew 26:21-22
These are Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper. Notice how each one of them protested, yet all of them abandoned Jesus at the time of his arrest. And, of course, we are familiar with Peter later denying three times that he knew Jesus.
It seems that our tendency is to resist acknowledging our sin or wrongdoing. Even when we acknowledge it, we often develop excuses or rationalize our conduct. We resist correction and then compound our resistance by getting angry with the person who is trying to help us.
This occurs in varying ways. It can be a job evaluation that indicates we are not doing our best. Sometimes it shows up in an argument with a family member or friend when we don’t get our way. We may dismiss our use of negative humor or participating in gossip. We may go along with a business practice of questionable integrity so as not to rock the boat.
Following a social engagement with some friends, my wife commented that I had been harsh with one person in connection with a certain political discussion. I protested, claiming to have been quite reasonable in my comments – “surely not I, Lord.” It took me a while to acknowledge that what counted was not my perception, but the perception of the person with whom I was having the discussion.
No matter how long we have been walking with the Lord, we are still capable of betraying Christ’s presence in us, along with his mercy and kindness. We can deny our wrongdoing, or acknowledge it, seek forgiveness and pray for greater faithfulness. Proverbs 12:1 gets it right when it says, “He who hates correction is stupid.” (NIV)
Do I humble myself and acknowledge when I do something wrong, or do I say, “Surely, not I, Lord?”