This week in our Sunday morning series, Above All Else, we took a look at one area where we need to guard our hearts.
When we hurt someone—intentionally or even unintentionally—we will often feel guilty. Guilt comes because there is an imbalance in the relationship. We owe someone something. That's why we use the phrase, "I owe you an apology." Or, "I need to make it up to you."
For example, consider child who lies to a parent. The child has robbed the relationship of trust. Or a coworker who sends an email belittling someone. They have taken a reputation from another person. Or what about a parent who walks away from the family because of an affair? They have robbed the family of traditions and meals together, as well as financial and emotional stability. Whenever we hurt someone, we cause a debt in the relationship. The thing that keeps that outstanding balance looming over us is guilt.
The Holy Spirit will often convict us when we've sinned or wronged someone. But that conviction serves as means for change. Confession, then, is a first step in a series of steps that brings light to the darkness we often attempt to hide or ignore.
Throughout Scripture, we see how confession was a public step towards abandoning sin. James even says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (5:16) Confession was more about the heart than a ritual that somehow made us feel better about or sins.
One factor to consider. John reminds us that God will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness when we confess our sins to Him. (1 John 1:9) God offers us freedom from our sin because He cancels the debt we owe Him. That's what's amazing about grace. God no longer looks at the debt we have with Him because He paid it in full. However, the forgiveness and grace that He showers on us is not an escape from our responsibility to make things right with those we've wronged. In fact, that very grace compels us to make things right with those we've wronged.
This is exactly why Jesus said, "If you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
It's also important to remember that confession is not what hurts people. Our sin and concealment of that sin is what hurts people.
Confession—the first step in making things right—can break the power of guilt in our lives. Here are a few questions for reflection:
Notes from the Staff @The Woods