“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 5:16
The message of the Gospel is that God has done for us through Jesus that which we could never do for ourselves. What did he do? He secured for us eternal life. He brought us into God’s presence. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a leader, teacher, and comforter to guide us through this life. And he did all this through the cross and resurrection. Through the cross Jesus took the penalty for our sin. Through the resurrection he made the way for us to have life forever. As we saw this past Sunday, we can confess our sins to God because he has already paid the price for our sin. Jesus has already secured our forgiveness. We drop our burdens of shame and regret over our sins when we confess them to God. However, this can often be seen as the “easy” part of confession. When we confess to God, we know forgiveness is at hand. But what about confessing to each other? Now that can be scary.
Even as we continue our Journey with Jesus, we fall short. We mess up. I have heard it said before, “hurt people hurt people.” All of us have been hurt in some way during our lives. Too often we act out of that place of hurt and we hurt others. How should we respond when we face the sins we have committed against others? We confess. We all know we’ve hurt other people. The Bible puts it like this, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Even though we have the Holy Spirit within us, we still have our sinful nature to contend with. We will war against this sinful nature until we get to Heaven. Until then, God calls us to pursue peace with each other and confess.
“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 5:16). There is an explicit connection between our confession and our prayer. If we approach God while hiding some offense we’ve committed against another person, our prayers will be hindered. Jesus puts it like this, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). Jesus is saying unless we first confess to each other and be reconciled, our prayers will be hindered.
Confessing to each other can be intimidating and awkward. It goes against our natural desire to justify ourselves. Too often we begin with, “I’m sorry but….” That only communicates we’re not really sorry for the offense. It takes great courage to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” But that is where we drop our burdens. That is where we find peace with each other. That is how we live out this Journey with Jesus.
Search your heart. See if there is any offense against another person there. The offense could be a day old or several decades old. Pray for peace. And then, if possible, confess to that person. They may or may not forgive. But through your confession, you will truly find peace.