Rats in the Cellar


If we ended our day by listing how we sinned, we’d find that most of our sins were sins against charity. We’ve sulked, snubbed, sneered, or stormed against someone else. And it wouldn’t take long before we found ourselves making the excuse that we sinned because we were suddenly provoked or caught off guard and in the moment we’d simply reacted. If we’d had time to collect ourselves, we’d have acted differently.

What we do when we’re provoked is the real us. The way we react in an unguarded moment reveals what’s really in us. As Lewis said, “If there are rats in your cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.”

Seen from this perspective we now understand why God doesn’t make our life easier; why he daily puts us with people who bump us about. He’s using the thousand provocations to teach us what we are. He’s turning the lights on suddenly to reveal the rats of resentment and vindictiveness. He catches us off guard so that he might subdue our untamed anger. And in doing so, even these bumps and blows are tools of his sanctifying grace.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s pray now.


Our Father,

We’re tempted to believe that our reactions to the frustrations of life and the sins of others don’t really depict who we are. We spend a lot of time defending our sinful outbursts and hurtful words. Father, we declare with your Word that, “if we claimed to be in the right, our own mouth would condemn us.” And if we said we were blameless, or there was a good excuse for our sin, you would prove us guilty. (Job 9:20)

So, we come agreeing with your Word that we are sinners. We admit that our outbursts show us what we really are. We are often controlled by our anger. Instead of submitting every frustration to you, we lash out even at those who mean us no harm.

Father, turn the light of your Word on our sulking, sneering, and storming attitudes so that we might know them to be as hideous as they truly are.

We want to display Christ to our nation which has forsaken you, so we know that confession and repentance must begin with us in the church. So, Father, hear us now as we silently confess all the ways we have sinned against you as individuals.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

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