Brothers and sisters, what power does confession hold? It holds the power to bind us close to one another. It holds the power to renew our relationship with the Lord Jesus.
John the Beloved reminds us to confess our sins because the act of confession can refresh our fellowship with God and one another.
Too often we think confession entails unloading some big sin. But though confession might entail such an unloading, it actually begins simply. It begins with the awareness to see how we have caused a rift or mistreated or in some way wronged a brother or sister or the Lord.
Moses said, "When you become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sins." (Lev. 5:5)
Confession also includes a toppling of pride. Think about it. Why don't we confess to one another? Because our pride tells us we have nothing to confess, or that whatever we have to confess will be too embarrassing, or that we will lose control of a position of power. Pride lies and dupes us to live a lie. Such is not life, but a heavy existence of guilt.
"When I refused to confess my sin," wrote David, "my body wasted away and I groaned all day long. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat." (Ps. 32:3,4)
The act of confession draws us toward one another. But we fail to take that first step toward fellowship. All it takes is seven words: I was wrong, will you forgive me. A confession!
Think about how sweet your friendships would be if confession and forgiveness were our common language. Imagine how our marriages might shine if confession and forgiveness replaced pride and selfishness.
James gives us this prayer: Lord Jesus, help me confess my sins to you and those whom I love. Strengthen me to pray for them so that we find healing. (James 5:16)
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.