Sometimes when you have the best of intentions and begin to confess old sins, you bump into resistance and stall out. It’s like cleaning the garage that I mentioned in the last post. You may spend a couple of hours in there and start to make headway, but then you give up and tell yourself you’ll get to it later.
When it comes to putting things right with other people, we can find many reasons to put it off for another day. What is it that stalls us out?
1. Pride stalls us out. If we confess our sin to our friend, we tell ourselves, then they will look down on us. It will blow their image of us. What will they think of us?
2. Fear stalls us out. We might lose our job or our standing or our position. The consequences are just too great.
3. Laziness keeps us from confessing. It’s just too much trouble, and it will take too much time.
4. The cost is too great. If we confess our sin, we might owe a hefty amount of money that we don’t have.
5. Rather than forgive us, those we confess to might retaliate. They might blab to everyone. They might sue for damages. They might act superior and rub it in.
The truth is, when you confess your sins, you are acting out of principle with no guarantees of the earthly consequences. You might get fired or lose a friend or have to step down from your position. It will certainly be humbling, and it might have financial ramifications. But in putting things right, you will gain a clear conscience before God and be able to enjoy fellowship with Him again. What price tag can you put on joy in the Lord? “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Hiding sin only leads to more sin. Confessing sin not only clears out the heart, but it is a terrific incentive to keep it clear. Read Psalm 51, David’s prayer of repentance for his sins. “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice…Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (vs. 7-8,12).
Whatever the earthly consequences, God always blesses obedience. Ask for the courage and faith to proceed past all the obstacles and resistance to put things right. Then you can pray with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….A broken and a contrite heart — These O God, You will not despise” (vs. 10,17b).