I hate that phrase.
Now, let me tell you why.
We don't get to decide the means God may use to open someone's eyes to their own sin. Even the most introspective person has to admit they are blind to many of their struggles and sinful habits. Therefore, having a ray of sun cause the filth in our own hearts to be revealed is a good thing.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a soft and gentle morning light and we're able to begin dusting it away as we confess it to God before others see it. But, other times, we "get caught" and walk into a spotlight in front of a crowd of people and it hurts. They see the filth we never wanted them to see. Our heads lower and shoulders slouch as we see the hurt, disgust, and astonishment in the eyes of the onlookers. And, Lord willing, that causes us to begin to see our sin for what it really is,
As a result, we confess our sin to God (1 John 1:9) and to those we hurt (Matthew 5:24, James 5:16). But, maybe we hesitate because we're afraid they won't accept our remorse because it came through getting caught.
So, that puts the question back in the lap of the offended. Are you willing to forgive someone who hurt you if their sorry happens as a result of getting caught?
Read 2 Samuel 11-12 and see when David's repentance occurs. He repents because Nathan shines the spotlight into his soul. He gets caught. But, God accepts his repentance.
Remember, Colossians 3:13 calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven (bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive). God never withholds forgiveness because someone got caught. He doesn't wait for them to prove they are contrite by going through a ritual. He forgives because Jesus has already paid the price on the cross.
So, let's banish the phrase from Christian vocabulary. No more "He's only sorry because he got caught." Instead, let's make it, "Praise God this situation helped him see his sinful heart and brought him to repentance."
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