Brenda had sex with more than 30 men over the years, but she’ll only admit to about six. She is now 60 years old and is fornicating with a divorced man that she doesn’t love. Still, she sometimes chastises her ex-boyfriend Bob, on moral grounds. Bob is married but he still occasionally visits her, looking for sex.
“You should be ashamed of yourself!” she once scolded Bob when he made a sexual advance. “You’re married! What would your wife say? If I was married, I wouldn’t be doing this.” But, about 20 years ago when Brenda was married, she was hardly faithful. Bob knows this because he had sex with her at least four times during that time. In response to her scolding, Bob didn’t remind Brenda of her sinfulness or call her a hypocrite. He knew that he was sinning, by secretly visiting her and by having evil intentions. He resolved to not do so again.
Yes, both of them were sinners, but there was a crucial difference. Bob admitted his sinful behaviour and repented. Brenda, however, was either suffering from amnesia or was in denial. She was resisting God’s grace.
I believe that God judges us on the basis of who we are rather than simply by what we do. Consider the apostle Peter. He denied the Lord three times. Jesus not only forgave him, He put Peter in charge of His Church! Why? Because the Lord judged Peter’s heart, not just his actions. When Peter promised that he would never deny the Lord, he really meant it. Perhaps he was being somewhat boastful, but his heart was in the right place. When he later denied the Lord with his tongue, he did not deny the Lord with his heart. Peter had only sinned out of fear and he had quickly repented.
There is a great difference between committing sinful acts, in spite of our best intentions, and consciously and freely embracing a sinful life. I’m not trying to excuse the former. We must resist sinful temptations to the best of our abilities, but we must not despair if we sometimes fail. What’s really dangerous to our salvation is indifference.
I’ve gone through periods when I, like Peter, denied the Lord. Thank God, those periods did not last long. I felt lost without Him and my life seemed empty. In the end, I always begged the Lord to take me back. Of course, He always gladly did so. May the Lord, through His grace, and the powerful intersession of our Blessed Mother, always keep my heart faithful to Him.