January 15, 2004

Encouragement for Today

"I don’t want to tell you."

Rachel Olsen

Key Verse:

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong. I John 1:4 (NCV)

Devotion:

I walked into the kitchen to find my almost-three year old covered in peanut butter and jelly. The two sides of his lunch sandwich had been pulled apart -- without as much as one bite eaten. On one piece of bread a smiley face had been finger-painted into the peanut butter. Jelly had been thoroughly licked off the other slice. Looking at the tell-tale mess on the table and his face, I asked him in a calm voice, "Caleb, what are you doing?" Knowing our house rule against playing with food, he answered: "I don’t want to tell you." I am hearing this line a lot from him lately. Though he is caught "red-handed," when confronted with his crimes my young son will respond with, "I don’t want to tell you!" More often than not he is crying as he blurts out this indictment.

Just a few months back I marveled at his willingness to confess to me anything and everything he did wrong. Oftentimes he volunteered the information before I even knew a transgression had been committed. A few times he by-passed me altogether, putting himself in time-out. When I found him there he would say, "Forgive me mommy." I assumed I was doing a fabulous job of instilling morals. However, as he approaches the ripe old age of three, he now has trouble admitting his wrongs and asking forgiveness.

He knows I always find the broken pieces of his latest mishap stashed behind the fridge. He knows his big sister eagerly gives me a full account of his wayward actions. He will also tell you that his mommy loves him even when he does something wrong. Still, he will not willingly confess his sins. He does not plead innocent of the crime. He does not plead ignorant of the crime. He simply does not want to talk with me about it. I can relate to that.

Many Christians, including yours truly, struggle with admitting sins. We know our heavenly parent sees all, yet we act as if we can hide sins from Him. We know He loves us with an everlasting love, yet we choose to believe He could never forgive us. We simply don’t want to talk about it, preferring to ignore our sins. King David, in Psalm 32, indicates that ignoring our sins is detrimental to our health and vitality. David attests to the liberating power of confession in verses 2-5: "When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone." David exclaims, "Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!"

I wanted to forgive Caleb for playing with his food and get on with the process of cleaning the peanut butter from his face so he could get down and play. My only requirement was that he confessed and apologized first. God too wants to forgive our sins, so much so that he gave His only begotten son Jesus to do it. No sin is too big or too small to confess to Him. Confession can be a joyous experience that restores intimacy with God and others. Regular confession releases us to spiritual vitality. So let’s declare with David: "I will confess my rebellion to the Lord!" Our God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from every wrong.

My prayer for today:

Jesus, thank you for dying for every single sin I commit. Purify me from my sin and wash me clean from my guilt. Hear my confession and restore to me health and spiritual vitality. Amen.

Application Steps:

In prayer, ask God to reveal to you any unconfessed sin. Wait patiently for His full response. Accept responsibility for these sins – big or small -- and then release them under the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Reflection points:

Do I allow God’s light to penetrate my heart and reveal every evil way in me?

Are there actions I have hidden from my spouse or others?

Is there someone to whom God is calling me to confess my sin?

Am I willing to make regular confessions in order to lead the completely honest life David described?

Do I view confession as a punishing requirement or as a liberating experience? 

Power Verses:

Psalm 51:6 But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my innermost being. (NLT)

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (NLT)

Psalm 51:7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (NLT)

Additional Resources:

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? By Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/key.html

A Woman after God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanafter.html

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html