There was a time in my Christian life when understanding what David meant by “hidden error” was crucial to me. How is it possible to violate God’s law if we don’t realize we are sinning? Are we still guilty of sin? Do we still need forgiveness?
The “hidden errors or sins” mentioned in Psalm 19:12 refer to unintended sins, sins we commit without realizing we are committing them. They can be actions that we ought to execute or put in practice but somehow we neglect to carry out or accomplish, such as a father’s negligence to correct a child who requires correction. It could also mean apathy toward someone’s pain or loss, or not taking the proper action against those we see inflicting harm to others, taking property, or destroying the bonds of community. Hidden sins don’t necessarily have to cause scandal, as adultery, but even so, they defy God’s law of love and misrepresent his holy character.
Until the day I met the woman in the red suit, I didn’t realize the adverse effect hidden sins could have upon my soul or how they could weaken my relationship with God. Because I often saw her dressed in a red business suit and had not bothered to know her real name, she was simply that: the woman in the red suit, another silhouette fading into the vastness of the white marble halls of the state capitol building, where we both used to work.
Coincidentally, the office of the woman in the red suit was located right across from my office. Even so, many years passed before I learned her real name. Perhaps it was her shyness that kept me from reaching out to her. She was as shy as an early spring sky, and her green, gentle eyes seemed to dance in their extraordinary shyness, as if somehow pleading for a “hello” that I always offered her in a hurried and impersonal way on those occasions we passed in the hallways.
Delimited, it seemed, by her own vague and distant approach, soon I started perceiving her, not as a person, but rather as a structure, almost as if she were part of the building, if not its perpetual permanence and solidness. Thus, in that sense, I expected to see her there forever.
One wintry morning, our office was suddenly saddened by the appalling news of Marci Smith’s death. Like all of us who worked at the capitol building; Marci Smith should have had many friends and family; however, she had been dead for a week before somebody noticed she was missing. A neighbor who reported a strange, putrid odor emanating from her apartment brought in the police, and that’s how her body was finally discovered.
I was angry at the world. How was it possible for someone to die and not be missed? I prompted myself to assured that Marci Smith’s fate would have been different had I been her friend; surely she would not have died alone and neglected as she did. Then, all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t really know who Marci Smith was or what she looked like.
I desperately tried to put a face to the name, but ‘Marci Smith’ was just a sad song that played over in my brain, a song without a face. How terribly inadequate and at fault I felt when I was finally given a description and suddenly realized that Marci Smith was the woman in the red suit, the no-name woman whom I never took the time, nor the care, to get to know. I prayed God then that there was more time. But my opportunity to love Marci Smith had sadly passed.
I didn’t know it then, but with my negligence and lack of interest in others, I was hoarding hidden sins that offended God. It is no wonder that the psalmist prayed in this manner: “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression”. Psalm 19: 12, 13.
Our tiny world is hungry for love, for the kind of deep and sincere love capable of lifting up discouragement and fulfilling our hearts with hope. Nevertheless, many times we deprive each other and deprive ourselves of love with our exacerbated individualism. Our wonderful heavenly Father wants us to remember that love is the only attribute of this present life that will be found unchanged in the future life. He desires that we understand the importance of freeing ourselves from hidden errors, from sins that will make us vulnerable to forget that we are called to try to love as God did, and to make love the moving force of our lives.