You Can Call Me Judah

Family and friends, you can call me Judah.

Like the chosen people of God, yours truly is a self-righteous, holier-than-thou moralizer whose hypocrisy makes him far worse than the people he presumes to lord over. Mea culpa, as our Catholic brothers say.

Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned. And sinned and sinned some more. If there’s anything consistent in this life of mine, it’s that I sin. It happens far more often than anything I do bearing resemblance to holiness or righteousness. Far more often.

Even when I reach the point of begging God’s forgiveness for my many disobediences, it is a self-centered desire on my part, rather than a desire to be right with Him.

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It’s all about me, even in repentance. Even in asking God’s forgiveness.

In effect, I double down on my underlying sins by making repentance and forgiveness all about me, rather than all about Him.

It’s a fallen world and I am certainly a fallen sinner, which may explain why I have relatively less concern even in times of great depression, regret and fear for having first sinned against God, as the psalmist put it.

Even in those moments I too infrequently regret my transgressions for the proper reason. Sadly, my regret too often is for the damage I do to myself, and the potential harm I might do to loved ones, friends and associates.

Like Judah, when these moments of truth loom, I shudder at the prospect of God sending my own version of Babylonian hordes to humble and discipline me, as written about by the prophet Habakkuk.

I wonder if those receiving their just rewards in Judah at the hands of the Chaldeans 2,600 years ago were likewise sorrier for their own dire consequences than they were for how much they had insulted God.

Pridefully, in rare times like this I find some solace that I’m more concerned for the shame I might bring on loved ones and friends by their association with me, than with the just discipline I am about to receive. I deserve it. They don’t.

But even that noble sentiment falls short, as all my best efforts do. Why aren’t I more ashamed of how I’ve disappointed God than how I will disappoint family? I fear it means I’ve yet to learn this lesson. Again. It’s a fallen world.

Nevertheless, my prayer is that God spare my loved ones’ grief and disappointment, even if He will not spare me. That seems more noble. But of course, it still is to focus on the wrong target.

Why can’t I be more grieved about disappointing God, than I am about letting down wife and children, friends and fellow believers? Contrite as I may be, I’m still focused on the wrong object. Clearly, it’s a sign that God has a lot of work ahead in this sinner’s heart.

Thank you for bearing with me. My prayer is that this too will pass, that the Babylonians will be called off and God will extend more of the grace with which He’s so often undeservedly blessed me. But, as family and friends, I wanted all y’all to know.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Mark Landsbaum is a Christian husband, father, grandfather and journalist who has written for a living for 43 years, ever since discovering he had no particular talents. He can be found on Facebook, Linkedin, and in the archives of the Orange County Register where he wrote another column for 10 years. He can be reached at
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