Confessions, Forgiveness, and Good Things from Above
I’m a word person. So word choice and being specific are my thing. We can get creative with our words, manipulate them, and leave certain words out to control a situation or an outcome. The fact that God chose to use language to create and connect with us only causes me to love and respect words more.
The other day I noticed the words I use when asking for forgiveness. Lots of times in prayer I jump into “Forgive me for….” and I start running through the list in my head. “Forgive me for overreacting when my daughter had her meltdown… forgive me for getting so distracted by facebook that I didn’t get the laundry folded; that was dumb”… “forgive me for not taking time for my husband like I should have yesterday…” Run-of-the-mill not loving my neighbor stuff.
Recently in Bible study we looked a little closer at repentance, plus it’s been a recurring topic in my life lately. The experts suggest that repentance includes 4 things:
- Sorrow for your sins
- Confessing those sins to God
- Trusting you are forgiven
- Striving for holiness
I’ve decided it might be a good idea for me to take more time for confession. Maybe think through it a little more. Am I really sorry for this thing? Do I actually need to confess not even feeling sorry for this and work on that first? Have I said “I confess….?” For example, “I confess I neglected my neighbor when I didn’t take time for my husband yesterday.”
Am I really taking time to recognize the problem? That might go a long way in 1) trusting I’m forgiven and 2) striving to change my behavior and seek holiness.
This might be a really good use for a prayer journal. Instead of just listing all the things I’m worried about or praising for – which are also good activities – how bout we use our prayer journals to work through our sin? Not because we are fixing ourselves. But because we should submit to God’s instruction to “say we have sin,” “confess our sin,” and “walk in the Light.” (I John 1:5-10)
Let me again emphasize the point that we are not in charge of our own sanctification. We are not instructed to follow a formula of behavior that will earn us God’s approval and the betterment of our souls. I think instead the act of us seeking to follow God’s law is evidence of the desires of our heart – planted by him – and He goes even further and directs our hearts to better things. Better choices, better decisions. Maybe more humility and conviction so we can see the depth of our sin and disgrace.
And here we are back to the depth of my sin.
Today I will seek to recognize my sin more completely.
To reflect on my sorrow.
I will hold onto the truth that I am forgiven when I repent and I will seek out better ways of living for the sake of my God and my neighbor.
My repentance will be inadequate.
It will fall short of complete knowledge of my unholiness. It will neglect some aspects of my bad behavior and selfishly seek out that behavior which is self-serving.
Only Christ can complete my confession. Only Christ gives any reason for my God to even consider forgiving me. Only Christ can perfect my heart.
I pray for His mercy to save me from my sin.
And I boldly ask Him to “set my mind on things that are above.” (Colossians 3:2)