When We\'re Honest: The Beauty of Confession

Written by Kailynn Nelson
I’ve written a lot lately about being honest with God about ours sins and weaknesses. This has been a theme for my life for the past few years. God has been calling me daily to be honest about my fears (which are many), my failures, and my sins (which are also many). Of course, part of the irony about being honest with God is He already knows everything about me. But in calling me to see my sins and my fears for what they are, and then laying them down before Him, I’ve learned to trust His grace more. It’s a daily, even hourly, struggle for me, but I have learned so much about His love and grace for me. God has shown me how small I am, how unable to save myself I am, and then He has covered me with His grace and love. It’s been a hard but also beautiful journey. Through it I have learned there is beauty in confession.
When I talk about confession, I mean confessing both to God and to others. Confession just means being honest about where you are, again, both with God and with other people. But I think we’d all admit that being honest isn’t easy, especially when it comes to being honest about our sins. As I’ve written in a few other posts, we don’t like to share our weaknesses. We live in a society that likes to pretend everything is okay. We are an “I’m fine” people. We are afraid of what people will think, or what God will think, of us if we show how broken we really are. We are afraid of rejection, humiliation, and any number of other things. If we are honest about our sins, we may not be able to enjoy them anymore. We don’t want to feel judged, we don’t want to feel like other people are better than we are, and so we pretend to be okay. We do all sorts of things to try to make everyone want to be as okay as we are.
I’m very guilty of this. I pretend. I lie. I fake it. I tell people I’m okay when I’m not. I’ve tried to hide my sins. I’ve tried to pretend I’m not scared. I hate it when people think I’m weak. In fact, this is probably one of my biggest insecurities. I’ll go out of my way to make sure people know I’m not as small as they think I am.
But just as the Bible calls us to be honest with God, I believe it also calls us to be honest and open with others. And we are truly missing out on something amazing when we don’t do that. James writes in his letter,
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:13-16).
Here, James calls us as the church to share our whole lives with each other. If we are suffering, or if we have joy, we are supposed to share all these things with each other. We are a family. And when we sin, James tells us to confess those sins to each other, as well. There are times when I wish that verse wasn’t in there. It’s not easy or comfortable to confess your sins to other people. But see what James says happens when a Christian does confess: “He will be forgiven.” It is important to confess our sins to God, like I’ve already said. But there is something beautiful about confessing those sins to others. The church is the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul talks about this several times in his letters. We are many members, but we are all joined into the same body. When one of us suffers, the other members share in that suffering. When something good happens to one person, we all get to rejoice together. And, when one of us sins, we should not hide it from the rest of the body. By confessing our sins to the rest of the body, we are able to experience the grace of God in a more tangible way. We actually get to feel the grace of God working through the rest of our body.
I’ve personally seen this during my time here at Heritage. Specifically, in my small group I’ve seen how powerful it can be to share my weaknesses with other Christians. Most of the people in my small group were brought together for what we call “Redemption Group” last summer. I won’t go into all of the details here, but the focus of this group was being honest about our sins with each other. It wasn’t a self-help thing, or just feeling sorry for ourselves. The point of the group was to preach the gospel to each other as we confessed to each other. We dug into the roots of our sins, ultimately something we weren’t believing about God. And then, we reminded each other about the truth of the gospel. We reminded each other who God is, and of His forgiveness for us. In this group, we were vulnerable, but in that vulnerability, we also found the grace of God working through each other. Many of us found that we struggle with similar things. As confession has become a pattern in our group, we have been able to help each other even more. Through this type of honesty, we grew closer together because we saw the grace of God through each other. And as I’ve been able to be more honest with these people, who are now no doubt my family, I’ve also been more honest with God. I’ve seen His grace through these other Christians. I’ve seen how He forgives and loves them in their sin and I’ve also seen Him love me through their grace toward me. Seeing His love like this has encouraged me beyond what I can describe in this post. And I don’t think I would have experienced His grace like this if I would have kept pretending that I was okay.
I could write a book just about all God has shown me in the past few years about how beautiful and important it is to be honest with other Christians. It’s something I’ve seen repeatedly, and something that really stirs my heart. I’ve learned there is just as much beauty in confession between other people as there is just with God. This is a pattern I’ve seen quite a bit at Heritage as a whole, as well as in my small group. And this is something I want to encourage us to keep pursuing together.
There is a type of church culture where no one wants to talk. No one wants to talk about their sins, no one wants to talk about the shame they feel, the fears they have. No one wants to talk about how confused they are. No one wants to talk about how they don’t always trust God.  And I hope and pray, as a whole church and individual members in it, we continue to push back against the temptation to stop talking to each other. I pray that we will continue to talk. We will continue to be honest. We will continue to confess.

No Comments