IN OUR CELEBRATE DISCIPLINE COLUMN EACH MONTH WE ARE LEARNING A NEW SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, HOW TO APPLY IT AND HOPEFULLY GROW INTO THE PEOPLE GOD WANTS US TO BE.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness.
CONFESSION: an admission of misdeeds or faults to God or another person.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24
Since God desires to give and forgive, He has put in place the process of redemption which started at the Cross and was confirmed with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because of Christ’s holy work and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can make our confession and know that forgiveness is possible.
The Spiritual Discipline of Confession is a difficult one for us because we often choose to see our community as one full of saints rather than a fellowship of sinners. All the more reason for confession to be a priority in our lives. When we are able to help someone struggling with their lives it helps us to know we aren’t alone in our struggle with sin. If I am left alone in the confession of my sin, I stay in the dark. It is in the light of mutual confession that healing power is released and lives are transformed.
In some Christian traditions there are formal printed confessions spoken as a congregation or to a confessor. There are many advantages to this method.
- No more excuses or blaming. We confess that we have sinned by our own fault.
- Forgiveness is expected and given. With words from a brother or sister our forgiveness is sealed by the Holy Spirit.
- Remorse is experienced. We use this time to consider the seriousness of our sin against God.
Confession journalling is another avenue to consider. As we go about our daily lives we can process our various sin struggles in a diary or journal. This can be a sweet time of self-examination with the Lord at the end of the day.
The most common view of confession is that spoken to another person. But before we run off and start sharing our deep dark secrets we must take care to find the proper person. Key qualifications we should look for are: spiritual maturity, compassion, wisdom and the ability to keep a confidence.
Having found a confidant there are three things we must check before we begin.
- Our conscience ~ We invite God to show us where we need healing and forgiveness.
- Our sorrow ~ We are taking our confession seriously because we know we have offended God.
- Our desire to sin ~ We ask God to help us live holy lives from this point forward.
The Spiritual Discipline of Confession breaks all pretenses over our life. We are now free to walk in our God given grace and forgiveness with the hope of making a difference in the lives of those around us.
“Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change.” ~ Richard Foster
If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful song to meditate on.
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
VIRTUE: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit.
forgiveness: the act of forgiving – to no longer feel resentment against an offender
VICE: a practice of wrongdoing, corruption of virtue, an unholy habit.
resentment: a sense of injury or insult regarding a person, an act or remark.
The process of forgiveness is neither simple nor painless. Before we can forgive others or ask others to forgive us, we must examine our relationship with God, accept the forgiveness He offers us and check if we have forgiven ourselves for wrongs we have committed.
Harboring unforgiveness, either against ourselves or others, blocks the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Sometimes it’s easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. I was told once when we refuse to forgive ourselves we are pridefully putting ourselves above God. Who are we not to forgive someone God has already forgiven? That puts forgiveness in a totally different perspective.
How do we forgive ourselves? Can we divide in two parts: one who bestows forgiveness and one who receives?
The essence of forgiveness concerns relationships not individuals. The process of forgiving ourselves takes place within our relationship with God. When we confess our wrongs to God and then receive the precious forgiveness He pours out on us we are cleansed of our wrongs and freed to no longer carry that burden.
Can we find freedom from the resentment we have for those who have hurt us?
It’s often said that “resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” When we hang on to resentment, rehashing and recycling old hurts and anger, we are harming ourselves. The family member that hurt your feelings ten years ago probably doesn’t think twice about you. They have no clue you were hurt and are going on with their life. Yet you rehearse the anger and self-pity daily to the point of illness.
We have to let go. The price is too high to not forgive! People who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. Studies show improved cardiovascular and nervous system function by those who forgive an offender. Forgiveness is not only powerful spiritually speaking but it is excellent for our health.
God forgave us so we too must forgive. God wants us to be healthy and happy and will give us the power to forgive if we put it in His hands. If we can see our offender as God does it makes it easier to let go of our pain. One of the best things we can do is start praying for our offender. As we do God can bring about healing in our wounded heart.
How can we know if we’ve truly forgiven someone?
Forgiveness requires hard work but it is possible. Forgiveness means that we aren’t going to let experiences from the past to control our future and keep us from the blessings God has for our lives. When we can honestly wish the best for the person who wronged us as God does for us, we are well on our way to true forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. forgive as the Lord forgave you. ~ Colossians 3:13
Contemplate Forgiveness as you watch this beautiful music video by @Matthew_West. http://youtu.be/VquoupNiypI