If Christians were more honest about their own sinfulness, they would be more effective in reaching nonbelievers for Christ.

Philip Yancey told of a prostitute, sick and without food, who asked an inner-city Christian worker for help. When he suggested that she should go to a church, she replied, “Church! Why would I go there? They’d make me feel worse than I already do!”

We who go to church regularly tend to put on a happy face or look pious on Sunday morning. This may give the impression that we never struggle with temptation or fall short of the high standard we profess. No wonder many street people or down-and-outers who visit church get the feeling that they are the only bad ones there.

This is not to suggest that we should make public all our sinful thoughts and actions. Rather, the solution to this situation begins with total honesty about ourselves like that expressed by David in Psalm 51. If we admit to ourselves our own sinful tendencies and recognize our own capacity for evil, we will not convey a holier-than-thou attitude. Down-and-out sinners will sense this, and God will then be able to use us to “teach transgressors [His] ways” (Ps. 51:13).