Posted by: zephaniah317 | February 1, 2008

Confession and Forgiveness

Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

   “Oh? Tell me.”

“Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

   “That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.” – Luke 7:40-48

I actually used to be confused by this verse.  I mean, how can we love little (or not be grateful, as The Message says above), if we are continually forgiven by God if we only ask (1 John 1:9)?

Then at Cross Current this week at my church (a prayer ministry centering on healing, forgiveness, and love from God), a light went on.  Read this:

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. – James 5:16

This is why God created confession to one another including Him.  It’s how we grow in community.  It is essential.  Think about it.  Have you ever grown in your relationship with someone unless there is confession and subsequently forgiveness.  We all make mistakes.  Let me say that again (for my own benefit):  We all make mistakes.  It’s our nature.  So how can we grow in community unless we are able to (a) get the mistakes out in the open, and (b) get forgiveness from our brothers and sisters in Christ when we confess those mistakes and sins?  We cannot.  In those moments when we confess our sins to another, it is the greatest chance we will ever have to show God and Jesus to that person, by forgiving them.  It is powerful.  It is the way life was meant to be.

And, let’s face it, you know when you’re forgiven.  You know when that person puts their hand on your shoulder or looks you in the eye and says “I forgive you” and “I love you”, and your heart releases, and tears come, and whatever else along with it.  Relationship is restored and it grows.  I’ll say it again, this is essential, vital, and an indispensable part of relationships.

And, also, let’s face it, you know when it’s lip service.  The other person’s attitude does not change towards you.  They still have a look of disapproval in their eye.  The relationship is still cold.  Now, I’m talking especially about close personal friendships, parent-child relationships, and marriage here.  The person who confessed becomes free simply by agreeing with God and the other person that what they did was wrong.  But, the relationship cannot become healthy again until the other person forgives with the heart, completely, totally.

“Where are you goin’ with this, Zeph?”  Here:  In the verse above from Luke, Jesus is speaking about human forgiveness.  And subsequently, I haven’t known a whole lot of forgiveness in my life.  This was actual unforgiveness in my early years, which led to a perceived unforgiveness later in life, even if the forgiveness was genuine.  Life was not meant to be this way.  God did not plan it like this.  When I discover or come to grips with the realization of sin in my life, and I confess it, from my heart, seeking the others’ forgiveness, and I’m not forgiven or given lip service at best, or even condemned at worst, and this happens time and time again, it becomes a traumatic experience to confess sin to others.  The fear builds walls and resentment and a need inside that can only be met in God and community with loving, caring Christians.  It builds a desperate need to be perfect, constantly, to avoid having to confess sin of any kind, even though I know in my heart of hearts that it’s there and must be brought out into the open.

I can talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, I need people.  Desperately.  People who will not give up on me.  Who will stick through anything with me, who will stay by my side, who will discipline me and yes, make sure I don’t get out of the consequences of my sin, but never condemn me, never slam me to the turf, never desert me.

And I can honestly say I’ve only had a handful of people in my life who have been this kind of friend to me.  And they are priceless.  Invaluable.  And I want to be that kind of friend to everyone I meet.  God, first, please come and heal me and change my perspective, and then, lead me to be that person, who…wait a minute…that’s a…

Friends come and friends go,
   but a true friend sticks by you like family. – Prov. 18:23-24

Lord, show me how to be that guy.  Jesus, give me opportunities for confession, so I can be healed by others forgiveness.  I want to forgive and be forgiven constantly…

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”  – Matt. 18:21-35

Lord, thank you for my friends.  Thanks for allowing me to be a friend to them.  Bring down my walls and lead me into life the way it was meant to be.  Glory to You.

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Responses

  1. AMEN!!!!

  2. Good thoughts. Hard thoughts to put into action. I am not good at either of these things: confession or forgiveness. Confession means I have to tell someone I screwed up and my individualistic nature thinks that is unnecessary. If I screwed up on my own, I should deal with it on my own. Granting forgiveness and grace means allowing people to make mistakes without making them feel stupid, without treating them like you are annoyed, without emotionally rolling your eyes in their direction. I am SO BAD at this. I think my nature wants to be able to let people know they screwed up so I can show how smart I am by recognizing their screw up. Even in simple things. I am really attempting to change this because I think I have a tendency to make people around me feel inadequate and incompetent. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the person you described in here…so thanks for the reminder and good luck.

  3. Happenings in in love, Life, Marriages and Religion can not be seperated. really a thought and keep posting!

    http://www.indiamatrimony.com for indian matrimonials

  4. Hi Zeph….just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your post….I have to admit the week that our leader said well your either hating or loving Cross Current I was one that sat there under my breath and said “YEP,HATIN IT !!”…but then last week little by little I think I may be seeing a light……I so desperatly want to be strong and brave ….the best part of your entry I liked was when you said at the end…bring down the walls and lead me into life the way it was meant to be……..may God bless you today with many smiles……

  5. thanks, Z…
    I think Spirit gave you some great insight and I believe the truth of that insight will set you free in this area…one confession at a time.

  6. Have you seen this site? People confess their sins online, anonymously: http://iconfessmyself.blogspot.com


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