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Saturday, September 24, 2011

True Confessions

The Bible says that we are to confess our faults one to another, as Christians. That is not an easy thing to do. The humiliation involved, the embarrassment, and the need to swallow one's pride and throw oneself on the mercy of others is a gargantuan task.

But it is necessary for its cleansing effect.

First, a stipulation. As one who has studied the Bible all my life both personally and in scholarly circles, I do not believe that the admonition to confess our faults to one another means to incessantly air out all of one's dirty laundry in public. That is foolish and a gross misinterpretation of those words.

There are times when 'confessing' publicly will hurt someone else. It is important to keep confidences. To blare out something about yourself that would also put another person in a very negative light is akin to a bull in a china shop. That is just as bad as whatever act you needed to 'confess.'

And then, some things are so personal that they simply do not need to be told. That is common sense. There is NO incident in the Bible where anyone, anywhere, EVER confessed publicly to things that should not be discussed in the open--except in a few very select venues, such as a support group perhaps, or privately to the person who was offended.

But, other things are good and helpful to be discussed. Other Christians can learn from our mistakes.

I remember growing up in church that periodically we would have 'testimony meetings,' where the 'saints' or 'Christians' would stand up and confess their past sins and celebrate how God had delivered them.

I heard alcoholics describe their broken, ruined lives and then recount how Christ turned them around completely.

The Church has lost something in the modern era in that there is no mechanism in place for Christians to 'confess to one other their sins.' The objective is not to glorify the sin but to glorify God for His ability to deliver. I get the impression today that a certain cancerous pride has invaded the Church where even Christians do not want others to think they EVER do anything wrong. That is a big mistake.

As for me, I admit I have a temper. I am a very passionate, emotional person who is prone to fly off the handle and say things I later regret. In some ways I am much better about it than I used to be, but in other ways it is worse. Strangers are usually the recipients. I have learned to spare those closest to me.

There are times when a person deserves a verbal raking over the coals. There are other times when such a thing is way over the top and uncalled for. I am still seeking a middle ground, the discernment to know the difference.

Anger itself is no sin. The Bible says, 'Be angry and sin not,' meaning that there are some things so bad and so unjust that to fail to get angry about them is sinful. But the Bible also reminds us that in other situations the tongue must be tamed because it tends to be like a raging torrent, consuming everything in its path.

I am still trying to learn the difference between the two. It is way too easy to justify one's verbal onslaughts as 'righteous indignation' that is fully justified. Sometimes, it IS justified. But in other cases it is clearly NOT. I have had trouble making the distinction.

But I am learning and hopefully growing. That is about the best any of us can hope for.  

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