Summary: #22 in the Book of James Series Confess your faults to one another and let the healing and forgiveness process begin. Pray for the healing of wounded spirits.
22 Confession is Good for the Soul
The Book of James Series
By Pastor Jim May
“Alright, “fess up. You do the crime, you serve the time!” Have you ever heard someone say that to you? Perhaps when you were a kid and you did something you weren’t supposed to and then the time came to face the music. Like all kids, the first words out of your mouth were “I don’t know” or “I didn’t do it.” But you knew you were guilty and you finally had to “fess up”. There’s just something about having to confess that we are wrong that just doesn’t sit well will the pride that is found in the human heart.
First of all there’s the punishment or the price that has to paid for doing wrong. Most of us would confess a lot quicker if we knew that there would be no repercussions. I’d have confessed to doing almost anything if I knew that the switch wouldn’t fly. Secondly, we don’t like being called wrong about anything. If we could just confess what we have done without having to make ourselves look wrong or pay the consequences of our wrong doing then how much easier it would be to confess our sin.
Two questions that I want to try to answer about the confession of our sin are these: 1) Just what should we confess? 2) Who should we confess to?
Some people believe that all they have to do is confess their sins to a priest and then he has the power to absolve them of that sin because he acts as a mediator between them and God. They simply have never learned that only Jesus can be that mediator. What does a confession accomplish if there is no repentance to go with it – absolutely nothing! In fact it can be dangerous under the right circumstances.
Four preachers met for a friendly luncheon. During the course of the dinner and conversation one preacher said, "Our people come to us and confess their sins and problems. Perhaps it would be good for us, as their spiritual leaders, to practice what we preach. After all, they say that “Confession is good for the soul." After a short discussion, they all agreed. The first preacher confessed that he liked to go to the movie theater for a night of entertainment and it just didn’t matter what kind of movie was playing. He just liked a night out at the movies so he could get lost in a fantasy world for a little while and forget his troubles and the work that was always waiting for his attention. Of course he didn’t do it in his own town lest the good church folk would get upset with him. The second preacher then confessed of his love for the taste and smell of a good cigar, so he would hide once in a while and light one up where no one could see him to point a condemning finger. The third preacher spoke up next and confessed that he just loved to enjoy a “Poker Night” once in a while. He just liked the thrill of victory when he did finally manage to get a winning hand. Of course he paid tithes on his winnings and always stopped before his gambling became too costly for his family’s welfare. He could always count on a few of the deacons to join in and they all knew to keep it quiet.
Then it came time for the forth preacher to make his confession, but he wouldn’t say anything. The other preachers kept pressing him saying, "Come on now, we confessed our little indiscretions, now tell us yours. What is your secret sin? Don’t you have something to confess to?” Finally the forth preacher said, "Well, I do have one little problem. My problem is that I often find myself guilty of being the source of some juicy gossip, and I just can’t wait to get out of here.” That was the last time those preachers ever confessed anything to one another.
Some people are easily convinced to confess to doing wrong even if they didn’t. They will take the blame just to restore peace into the situation because they are peacemakers.
At a parochial school it was hard to get the primary age children to go into the confessional. Since their religion taught that regular confessions to the priest were a must to enter Heaven, it was imperative that they come up with some way to train the kids. The headmaster had an idea one day on how to solve the problem and gave instructions that every teacher should have her students to make lists of their sins so that they could read them in the confessional and make it easier. The next morning, the priest entered into the confessional, sat down and slid the window back to listen to the first child who came in to make confession. As he sat there waiting the priest could hear the student unfolding a piece of paper. Then the student began to read his list of sins loudly. “I lied to my parents. I disobeyed my mom. I fought with my brothers and…” There was silence for a few moments; then the student became angry and said, “Hey this isn’t my list. I don’t even have a brother. I’m not a sinner after all.”