Confess! Stop bickering! Forgive! The message echoed through churches, bible studies, families, and God’s word itself. Each time I heard it, I lamented the petty bunch of people we are. “Why don’t people get it?” “Is it so hard to get along?”
Then, thank God, my own sins became clear. It is not about ‘those people’, it is about me. The sin of others is none of my business. What is my sin?
The Holy Spirit brought to mind several instances where I had been unkind, abrasive, and judgmental. I hurt people. Unintentionally at times… other times that was simply the price of getting my way. …Ouch.
As soon as I saw my sin, my prayers seemed blocked. I couldn’t seem to pray until I’d confessed that behavior as sin. Some confessions remained between me and God; others had to be done in person. Apologies were necessary for my behavior. I needed to ask forgiveness.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
As soon as I confessed my sin and asked for forgiveness, it became impossible to judge. I was humbled - aching because I had grieved my God and his precious people. I hung my head and cried. I felt sheepish and joyful all at the same time. I craved mercy. I was healed from the bitterness I was unaware of for so long.
But this verse doesn’t stop at confession. There’s a call to continued action here. ‘Pray for each other’
I once read that criticism can become a habit. I saw evidence of that shortly after confessing. I was tempted to resume my pious position of judge. Oh, how easily my flesh is tempted!
The antidote though, may be found in the two prayers required in this verse: My own continued confession and continual ‘praying for each other’. Aha! Praying for someone requires keeping them in my thoughts. It requires sincere humility. It requires love.
God is so smart, isn’t he? Brilliant!
Thank you Jesus, for continuing to purify my heart. It’s a painful process, but I trust you to bring a harvest of right living as you train me in this way. The more I know you, the more I can walk like you. Thank you for your mercy on me and for reminding me of that each time I get to pass it on.