Parson to Person: Confess while you are able
About 25 years ago I was driving home from an emergency call at 2 a.m. I remember being exhausted, driving slowly and having a hard time staying awake. A police car stopped me.
Two officers walked up to the door, and asked if I was drunk. My reply was, “No, I’m not drunk, I’m a veterinarian!”
They shone their flashlights around the K5 Blazer, saw all the lariats and halters and medicines, and warned me to be careful as I drove home.
Two months ago a call came in for a heifer with an obstetrical emergency. I did not waste any time driving to the farm. On the way an officer stopped me. I explained the rush. He warned me to take it easy.
A few weeks ago on Sunday morning, a friend from church confessed to me that he was speeding on the way to church. Then he remarked that I had passed him!
The Friday evening at the start of the Memorial Day weekend I was hurrying to Fairfield to officiate two soccer matches. The first was to begin at 5:30 p.m. The officer took the time to ticket me. (By the way I did make the game safely and on time).
Augustine, the fourth-fifth century Bishop in North Africa, wrote, “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”
King David affirmed that when he kept silent about his sin, he wasted away, but when he confessed his transgressions to the LORD, then God forgave the guilt of David’s sin (Psalm 32:3-5).
In Psalm 51:4 King David wrote of his confession to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” That is a bit of hyperbole, but the intent is clear.
God sets the standards, and he is the primary one we have offended. We can always go to him with our failures and find mercy and renewed joy (Psalm 51:1-12). Additionally, others can learn from our mistakes and turn to God (Psalm 51:13).
In James 5:16 the Bible says to confess your sins to one another. The context does not indicate that you are to confess all of your sins to everyone.
Rather, the context is confessing sin to mature fellow believers. James 5:16 goes on to say “pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Confession may or may not be a spiritual discipline that you need to practice. We probably all need to improve on the giving and hearing of confession in appropriate ways.
Paul wrote to Titus that the older women should train the younger women (Titus 2:3-4). Likewise, on some sensitive topics, it is better for men to disciple other men.
You might try writing about your sins and God’s loving kindness. It worked for David in writing the Psalms.
Talk with a confidential friend, counselor or pastor. If a friend confides in you, then keep the confession confidential.
Consider reading Richard Foster’s chapter on “Confession” in his classic “Celebration of Discipline.”
A small group, such as a 12-step group, or Celebrate Recovery, or the like, could be a good place to find freedom from besetting sins or struggles that need to be confessed.
Don’t put it off forever. Forever may be too late. King David urges the penitent to pray to God…while God may be found (Psalm 32:6).