As I learned to confess more intimate sins and I learned something about myself. I am real bad about justifying my sin or like Adam, placing the blame on someone else. This is what it often looked like.
Me: Listen I just wanted to ask your forgiveness for being short with you earlier and not treating you like I should…It’s just that…I’m kind of frustrated because you are always interrupting me and nagging me about stuff.
Wife: Ummm…that just made it worse.
Yeah, not pretty. Sounds familiar huh. God: Did you eat the fruit? Adam: Umm…yeah, I did. But it was the woman you gave me who offered me some fruit and I ate it. We hate taking the full blame for our actions. We want to water down our blame. This is not true confession. We are supposed to confess OUR sins, not the other persons. See it doesn’t matter what caused you to act wrong, you still acted wrong. You are responsible for it. There is a time and a place for dealing with those frustrations, it just isn’t during your confession. When confessing search your heart. See if you have done anything to wrong someone, an action, a thought, a word, whatever. Then confess what you have done. If they feel conviction they may confess something to you, but if they don’t, that’s okay.
Many sins within the church begin with a simple misunderstanding or an offense that goes undealt with. That is why Jesus taught us what to do in these instances. Let’s look at Matt 18:15-17
If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.
As you can see in this passage the burden of confrontation is upon the offended not the offender. What usually goes on in our heads is something more akin to vengance. “Well, they know what they did and they should come and say they are sorry!” When actually this passage says just the opposite. It says we should take the offense directly to our brother. Why? In my experience, 9 out of 10 times the brother has no idea he has even offended you. It is usually just a misunderstanding that leads to immediate reconciliation. But it requires us to be humble and admit when our feelings have been hurt. More often than not I see people more concerned with winning an argument than finding peace in their relationships. This is destructive to the person but especially to the body.
When we follow this simple teaching of Christ confession is usually joined with asking for forgiveness and then repentance. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of Christian love in the community of believers. I have always said that one of the chief characteristics of God is forgiveness. And if we truly want to emulate him and be like him, we will forgive. We will forgive when we have been misunderstood. We will forgive even if it makes us look bad, we will forgive over and over and over(Luke 17:4). Because that is how he treats us. Remember the Lords prayer(Luke 11:4)? “Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us” The ‘as’ in this sentence is not meaning at the same time, but in the same way. If we will be forgiven in the same way we have forgiven others, we better be people characterized by forgiveness because we sure need plenty of it.
Check out the last installment of this series tomorrow.