When We Don't Confess Our Sin
Since January, some friends of mine and I have been spending time with some students in our church discussing the Bible. We have focused on the theme that if we want to know what God is like, Jesus is whom we look to. To do so with them, we have read the Gospel of John bit by bit, story by story, to catch what glimpses we may. As they are notorious for asking provocative questions, one student asked something that filled the room with silence and made us all pause. He looked at us all timidly and honestly, his eyes moving to the left and to the right as if something eluded him. He then said, “What happens if we don’t confess our sins to God when we pray? Like, if we just don’t bring it up, what does it mean?”
My friends and I looked at one another with deep anticipation, wondering who would speak up to answer his question. We were aware that he was asking about the effects of God’s love for him without confessing wrong and possibly about any eternal ramifications of it. So it was with the former in mind that I turned to answer his question. Wrong as I may be, I believe it to be true for us as we interact with God and one another.
I can be a stubborn individual when I’m fixated on wanting to act on something specific, or when a something specific is acted upon me—namely, something hurtful. I will harbor bitterness and remain frustrated for days on end, fixated on the event and my offender. I have to make a conscious effort and decision to let go in order to move on. It’s terrible, I know, and is something I have taken years to become better at. If a close friend or my wife hurts me, for example, I still love that person and may have even forgiven them before we have had an opportunity to clear the air between us. But until then I will feel a division that looms in the relationship.
Conversely, my wife is much better at this than me. She gets over things quickly and moves on. I have much to learn from her in this way. If I hurt her, I know that she still loves me and that she has probably forgiven me long before I apologize to her. But until I do, I feel distant from her and she from me. Once I go to her and I apologize and acknowledge what I did we can then look at one another with clearness, receive each other’s embrace, and move forward. We have been reconciled.
This is how I believe God interacts with us. Though we do wrong we are still loved and, I believe, forgiven. But without that conversation, without that confession and that apology, we are not reconciled and the relationship cannot move forward. Things are at a stalemate.
Where my example between husband and wife breaks down is that the confession and apology is exchanged between two people for their faults and the way they hurt one another. Because God is without fault, though, the confession always rests with us and forgiveness is always God’s to give. It’s not something we can take, but something we receive when we confess. When we do, we find that our unwavering God has simply been waiting for us. Things can pick up where they left off and there can be peace and laughter and joy and unity.
What comes to mind when you think about not confessing something to God? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.