September 27, 2009

Confessing Our Sins

Matthew 5:23-26

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other …
James 5:16


At a seminar for ministers in Colorado, we were asked to tell the person standing across from us one of our most intimate experiences or to confess a sin in our lives that we had never yet confessed. The person standing across from me was a professor from the seminary I had attended just a few years earlier. He looked at me and said, “I don’t want to tell you, and you don’t want to tell me.” Some time later when we discussed that experience, he said wisely, “Some things were never meant to be disclosed in public because they are too personal to be shared with anyone else.”

When James urges us to confess our sins to one another, he is not saying we should tell all in front of everyone. But the truth remains that confession is good for the soul. Of course we have to confess our sins before God and ask for his forgiveness. Unconfessed sin creates a barrier between us and God (see Psalm 32).

But James also recognizes the power of confession within the Christian community. Believers need to make things right with those they have offended. And often the weight of our guilt is eased when we share our burden with a trustworthy friend or spiritual counselor. The power of their prayers and their words of assurance offered in Christ’s name can help to quiet our restless, guilt-ridden souls.

Lord, help us to see how we have hurt one another and that we need to reconciled. Lead us also to confess our sins to you, and help us to live faithfully for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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