Read: James 5:13-18
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (James 5:16).
Every Sunday at our church, before we receive communion, we bow our heads and our hearts as we confess our sin. Sometimes we may only repeat these simple words: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. We always include silence so that each of us can offer our particular failures and hopes to God. What I always find most powerful, however, is the confession we do aloud together, in unison, acknowledging how desperate all of us are for grace.
Early in James’ letter, he explained sin’s destructive power: wherever it goes, it leaves ruin. “Temptation comes from our own desires,” he wrote, “which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). Far from being merely innocent indiscretion, sin destroys, like a cancer seeping into the soul.
Confession offers an antidote to sin’s malignant power (James 5:15). Through it, we open ourselves to freely receive the grace that heals us. Moreover, when we reveal our brokenness to others, we open ourselves to encounter the love that comes from God’s people, the body of Christ (James 5:16). It’s difficult, however, for God to heal us through others if we maintain masks and refuse to own our failures.
Confession heals because it’s the way we abandon our self-reliance and enter grace’s free-flowing stream. Instead of remaining isolated or resistant to the God who loves us, confession allows us to drop our guard, to stop hiding. It’s a way to leave our darkness and enter God’s brilliant light. And as our prayers of confession lay bare our hurting hearts, we can experience God’s mercy and forgiveness flooding in.
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