James 5 “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (The Message)
When we sin we seem to have this culture of trying to keep it to ourselves, not letting anyone else know, putting on the mask of perfection. And inevitably this only results in us returning again and again to the same sin, like a dog returning to its vomit (re Proverbs 26:11). Time and time again we end up tripping over the same stupid things.
We know we shouldn’t do it. We know it will only lead to regret. But we also know that no-one else will know. And we seem to worry more about being found out by others than by God. After all, God will forgive us. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to sin.
Yet with the reassurance of forgiveness, and the safety of privacy we sin, and begin to crumble. A couple of clicks and no-one need ever know. A prayer of remorse and all is ok – until the same temptation occurs a few days later and we cave in again. And again. And then when the temptation gets more serious we suddenly find ourselves giving in, unable to resist.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. James offers advice that will help us overcome the vast majority of temptations – be totally open and honest with your Christian brothers and sisters. When asked how you are let’s resolve not to fob each other off with the safe option of ‘Fine thanks, you?’, but be prepared to put our reputation on the line and admit when we are struggling.
“Confess your sins to each other“. Chances are they will be struggling with something too, but are embarrassed to admit it as you seem to have no such struggles. But if we are open about our struggles then others will be more comfortable confessing to weaknesses and there will be less hiding behind a mask of togetherness when inside everything is falling apart.
We are not perfect people – there is nothing wrong with slipping up from time to time. What is wrong is refusing to admit to it. We deceive ourselves, and make it harder for others to be truly open without appearing exceptionally weak for being one of the few who doesn’t seem to have it all together.
So let’s be more honest with each other. Let’s admit to our struggles. Strip away the masks of togetherness and righteousness. Confess our sins to each other, then pray for strength and healing. And when we know that we need to honestly admit our sins to our brothers and sisters, maybe that will cause us to think twice before giving in.