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WHITE COLUMN: A little heaven on earth

 

“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 wonderful results.” James 5:16

The story is told of four preachers who were out together and wanted to have a confession time.

They were talking about their various failures.

One preacher said, “Well, you know, I sometimes watch movies I shouldn’t be watching.”

Another preacher said, “Well, you know, I go to the casino and gamble occasionally.”

The other preacher said, “You know, when I’m by myself, I smoke cigars and cigarettes.”

The fourth preacher said, “Well, my sin is gossip and I can’t wait to get out of here and tell your business.”

Unlike this fourth preacher in this story, we must be trustworthy Christians as fellow believers ask us to support them as they struggle with a sin.

In our golden text, James is teaching us that confession clears the way for real fellowship. Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God for forgiveness. But confessing our sins to one another still has an important place in the life of the church, because confession clears the way for worship. The Hebrews practiced open confession, admitting their sins to one another (Nehemiah 9:3). (1) If we have sin against an individual, we must ask him or her to forgive us. (2) If our sin has effected the church, we must confess it publicly. (3) If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin, we should confess it to those who are able to provide that support. (4) If, after confessing a private sin to God, we still don’t feel his forgiveness, we may want to confess that sin to a fellow believer and hear him or her assure us of God’s pardon. Let’s do it God’s way. A little heaven on Earth.

 

Willie White is pastor of Greater Saint Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church in Brantley.