"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Week 6: Confess Your Sins, Part 1

Confess your sins to each other. ~James 5:16

In the third week of the James 1:22 Project my assignment was repentance. During that week (regular readers might recall) I divided my life into three time periods (pre-conversion, post-conversion but pre-marriage, and post-marriage) and dedicated some time to praying about each time period, asking God to bring to my mind whatever sins he wanted me to repent of and confess. I was not attempting to list every detail about every sin that I've ever committed. The goal was to be honest and specific, but spirit-led.

This week, the assignment is confession. We are commanded in the book of James to "confess [our] sins to each other and pray for each other so that [we] may be healed." In response to this command, I intend to confess my list from week three to a Christian brother.

I've confessed sins before. It is always scary, but also is always liberating and healing. I have never attempted to make a confession nearly as comprehensive as this one.

As for the practical matter of to whom I should confess, I will again follow Richard Foster's example. In his masterful book Celebration of Discipline, Foster acknowledges that "it is quite correct theologically to say that every Christian believer can receive the confession of another." He recommends, however, that confession be made to a person with the qualities of "spiritual maturity, wisdom, compassion, good common sense, the ability to keep confidence, and a wholesome sense of humor."

I am very blessed to be able to say that there are several dear Christian brothers in my life, who are close friends, that I would trust with my confession. God has richly blessed me in this area. From the beginning of my Christian walk, He has given me trustworthy Christian brothers---men who have stood by me as fellow sinners and saints and made Jesus's presence real to me.

In week two, I wrote about a young man who was my friend in high school and who softened my heart towards Jesus while I was still an unbeliever. After my conversion, we were in a men's small group together for several years. We met together weekly for prayer and mutual encouragement. He and I are not so young anymore, but we are still close friends. We live a block apart, and his sons and my sons are buddies. How great are God's blessings?

My wife and I belong to a small group at our church with five other couples. It is a wonderful group of winsome and encouraging people, and I have no doubt that any of the five guys in our small group would have the requisite wisdom and compassion to receive my confession.

For this week's assignment, however, I have made an appointment to meet with my pastor. He has agreed to hear my confession. It feels right and appropriate to me that I should give my confession to my spiritual leader. I respect and trust him, not only because of his position as my pastor, but also because he has shown himself to be a God-fearing man of wisdom, integrity and compassion.


  1. wow, nathan. your group is already winsome? but march is just starting! we are just beginning that journey today. ;)

  2. Winsome. I looked up the definition. It means "attractive, engaging." And, yes, I would say our group is already quite winsome. And, I must say I think your group is already winsome as well. What I'm saying is that I don't think we have any shortage of winsomeness in our respective groups. I think that I'm interpreting the topic this month as, "how to share the gospel in a winsome (attractive, engaging) way." Thanks for the comment, my most faithful commentor. Commentor? Commentator?

  3. Nathan, I just signed up for the email updates. Thanks for making your blog convenient in that way, I'm horrible at remembering to read blogs, even when I really like them.

    When Steve told me what you were doing, I got very excited. The kind of excitement that only a Christian can have when they hear about someone striving to obey God. There may have even been a squeal somewhere in that excitement, as James 1:22 is one of my 'basement' verses; that is, it speaks to the foundation of our Christianity in my opinion. Thank you for doing this. I'm inspired and challenged. This whole project reminds me of Philippians 3:13-14, you are keeping your eye on the prize. It's a life of striving, this Christian life we live, and it's always good to see/read how our fellow brothers and sisters are living it out loud.

  4. Thanks, Janele, for reading and for the encouraging comment. It means a lot. I have some of those "basement" verses, too. James 1:22 was not one of my favorites prior to this project, but I'll never ever forget it now.

  5. I agree with Janele, and am glad about the Email subscription. "Living out loud" That's a cool interpretation! I'm just learning about this blogging thing and hav yet to figure out how to post with out being annonamous. Any suggestions?

  6. If you have a Google account (even if just for e-mail), just sign into your account before posting your comment. Otherwise, you can post "anonymously" but leave your name in the text of the e-mail.