Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5, verse 16.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re most likely familiar with that second sentence in this verse. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Indeed, THOSE words are powerful and effective. Prayer isn’t some wishing well, or some check-box activity, and it isn’t something that we do in the blind. Prayers are real. They are all heard. I’m going out on a limb by saying they are all answered as well, even when we don’t receive the answer we expect (or want), or even when it takes years to know the answer, that is, if we ever do. If you can do nothing more than pray for someone, then you’re doing something that most of the other 7 billion people on this planet don’t do, namely doing something to be actively involved in healing for another person. “For another person:” that’s the key. Hold onto that key.
But let’s not gloss over the first part of the verse before praising God for the second. If you’re Roman Catholic, the idea of confession isn’t unfamiliar. If you aren’t (or maybe if you are) the idea is uncomfortable. It isn’t Protestant practice to have to confess our sins to another person to receive absolution. Confessing to God is how absolution is given.
Yet we should confess to each other anyway…for the other person. James is way ahead of 21st Century psychologists, who are only now beginning to understand the healing power of confession…and subsequent forgiveness. It’s not just the rejuvenating aspect of letting go of an emotional burden. If done in love, confession can be an act of contrition and service. It’s not about getting something off your chest: it’s about confessing honestly to help another person. To serve. To give praise, honor, and glory to Jesus by letting Him take over our sins, and by letting go of them through owning up to them so that others might be served. When we do that, we do it for another person. Just like praying, when we confess to serve someone else – for another person – we actively do something to help them. We benefit in the process, but a confession ‘not about me’ can be a beautiful thing.
Next time guilt sticks you, think about the other guy, and how you can help them. And if telling them of your wrong will help them. If it will, maybe God is trying to tell you something.
Lord Jesus, I confess to You all the ways I’ve failed You, hurt others, left things undone, and not been the man You made me to be. Forgive me, restore me, and help me to change.
When did you last confess your wrongdoings?
When you confess, who is it for?
Do you think there are things so bad that you can’t confess them (you’d be shocked to learn that you’re wrong)?