Why is confession so hard for us? Often we will sit for days, knowing that we need to confess but unwilling to do it. At other times, we will go for years pretending that all is fine rather than take that step of confessing to another what we have done. But sitting with unconfessed sin increases our stress, steeps us in guilt, and leads to other unhealthy behaviors. So why is confession so hard for us?
All sin harms not only ourselves but others, not matter how “personal” or “secret” that sin is. Maybe we fear the response of the one receiving our confession. “I’m so sorry I hurt you,” could lead to forgiveness and the restoration or strengthening of the relationship, but it can also lead to a poisonous outburst and the end of the relationship, and we can’t know which. And so rather than facing the possibility of attack and separation, we move on with a wounded relationship devoid of life and joy.
Or perhaps we fear what the other may ask of us as payment for our sin. Whether that punishment is public shaming, (“You will admit to my family what you have done!”) or simply a shift in power (“Yes, I was unfair, but it was nothing compared to what you did to me!”), fear grows in the face of unknown punishments.
And so we justify our sins, or ignore them, or simply live with them, suffering the soul-eating consequences of our decision. Until we are willing to hear once again the promises of scripture in Psalm 103…
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
When we confess our sins to God, we don’t need to fear the dissolution of our relationship with Him. On the contrary, we know that confession restores our relationship which is broken by sin. Our confession strengthens our relationship with God, making it stronger than it was.
When we confess our sins to God, we don’t need to fear repercussions from Him. Sin has a cost, but He has already paid it through Jesus Christ His Son. Our confession allows us to live in gratitude and thankfulness rather than guilt and fear.
And confessing our sins to God makes it much easier to confess our sins to one another. This lent, spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal the sins we commit. And then confess them to Him. Your faith, your relationship with God, and your contentment in life will be the stronger for it.
Walking this journey with you,