Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Although I can't remember what I had done wrong, I do remember I had messed up and my father was teaching me to be a man. He said, "Ken, you know and I know you've done something wrong here. For that you are going to be punished. The difference is this: I need you to 'fess up. If you do, you will still be punished, but if you don't, the punishment will be greater because you didn't take responsibility and act like a man."
Lesson learned. Apparently, it was not a lesson taught to a New York father, Michael Ware.
Ware tried to be a "cool" dad. For him that meant allowing his 15-year-old daughter to regularly drive the family SUV. In the eyes of his daughter's friends, Ware was the ultimate father. That changed the day his daughter drove some of her friends to breakfast.
On the way home there was an accident. Three of the daughter's friends were killed.
It was a terrible tragedy... one that rocked many families. It was also the moment when Ware should have stepped up and admitted, "I am the one behind this 'preventable, irresponsible, reckless, stupid and selfish' tragedy."
Sadly, it was Judge Roy Hamill, not Ware, who used those words. Ware acted differently.
Ware went to his daughter and said, "Don't tell anyone I gave you the keys to the SUV. Just say you took those keys, and I didn't know anything about what was going on. I need you to take the heat for the accident because they will go easier on a minor like you." The daughter did as her father asked. Eventually, the truth came out, and the judge made a ruling on the case.
Ware's lawyer had asked that he be sentenced to prison for 12 or 13 months. The judge did not accept that request. Prefacing his sentence, the judge asked, "What kind of father does (something like) this?" Then, partially because Ware had figuratively thrown his daughter under the bus, his honor sentenced Ware to 6 and a half to16 years in prison.
Scripture is filled with people who tried to pass the blame. After the first sin, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake. Cain killed Abel and pretended he didn't know what had happened to his brother. And that's just the first four chapters of the Bible.
In contrast to our natural desire to pass the buck (and we've all done it), the Lord tells us that those who try to hide their sins are not going to do well. In Proverbs He tells us that we ought to confess our sins and thereby receive the mercy, which comes to us through the sacrifice and victory of our Redeemer.
When we admit our errors and fall on the mercy of the court, we will be amazed to see just how merciful the divine Judge can be.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that in the Redeemer we have obtained mercy for our manifold transgressions. May we come before You praying, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" and then rejoice that Your mercy and forgiveness is there. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries