The sins of some men are obvious,
reaching the place of judgment ahead of them;
the sins of others trail behind them.
I Timothy 5:24
In my life I have fallen into both of these categories.
There have been times when my sins were worn on a badge on my chest. They were right there out in the open for anyone to see, anyone who was looking. Sometimes I was the only one who could not see these sins. I was under the impression that I was doing pretty well, when those who were closest to me were being hurt.
Other times I have kept my sins hidden. I was the only person who could see these sins. I held onto them the way a man might hold onto the last bottle of water during a drought. These hidden sins were the last remnants of a former self, a self that I clung to, even though it was detrimental to me.
A better illustration would probably be more like a man holding onto a bottle of sea water during a drought. Secretly taking drinks of it, thinking that it those cool drinks would be satisfying. But sea water can never satisfy thirst. It only heightens it. I would have been like that man, when there was a cool fresh-water spring within reach.
This verse was written as a warning, in the context of elder approval. When one is choosing an elder, great caution must used. There is always the possibility of hidden sins. You may not see them right away, but they will show themselves eventually.
Even though this verse was written to assist with the evaluation of others, I read it as a warning to myself. (It seems that most of the verses I read end up having their targets aimed at my heart.) I recognized how I fit into this verse. I don't want my sins to be leading the way in front of me, and I most assuredly don't want my sins to be following up behind me, leaving a trail of destruction.
I want to be the kind of person who is laid bare in the eyes of Christ, not withholding anything. I want my sins to be dealt with right now, today. Not in front of me or behind me. Right here. Let's get to the heart of the problem.
The Bible is the exact tool that I need (that we need) to achieve this. It is living and powerful. It is the only book that has the ability to cut to the depths of the inner being, and it will reveal the heart (Heb. 4:12). And the heart is the exact place where we need to go. It is the source, the wellspring of all sin (Mk. 7:21-23).
May God cleanse our hearts and renew our spirits (Ps. 51)before the trail of sin becomes irreversible.