Have you ever sat crying after an argument with a loved one over something that seemed minor on the surface but triggered catastrophic feelings? The living room paint color that launches a litany of all the poor decisions you’ve ever made. A missed family reunion taken personally. A child’s tears over a forgotten recital, lost in the blitz of holiday preparations. The harsh word spoken at a moment of vulnerability to produce maximum damage. Whatever it is, one thing’s certain: we hurt each other, and hurt begets hurt.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Watch Week Two, Day Three
the barrier between us
Sin creates barriers in relationships, and it has from the very beginning. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they suddenly felt ashamed and afraid. They covered themselves with fig leaves and hid behind trees when they heard the sound of God walking in the cool of the day. What had once been a paradise of perfect relationships instantly shattered into a million broken pieces. Adam and Eve felt cut off from God, and in their haste to blame each other, their own relationship fell apart (Genesis 3).
We all know what that feels like. Whether major transgressions or tiny infractions, our sins build walls that keep us isolated from our Savior and other people.
recognizing our brokeness
Scottish minister Oswald Chambers, author of the popular devotional My Utmost for His Highest, once went through a four-year period of depression and isolation that he called his “dark night of the soul.” He entered a wilderness of self-hatred and despair and felt completely cut off from God and from other people.
At the end of four years, Chambers felt a burning conviction to confess his lack of the Holy Spirit. He stood up in the small chapel where he had often preached, confessed his spiritual deadness and lack of love, then quickly sat down. A leader from the League of Prayer said, “That is very good of our brother, he has spoken like that as an example to the rest of you.” Chambers stood up again—he later said the second time was a hundred times worse than the first—and said, “I got up for no one’s sake, I got up for my own sake.” From that day forward, the Spirit filled him with power.
“A child of the light confesses instantly,” wrote Chambers later, “and stands bared before God; a child of the darkness says—’Oh, I can explain that away.’ When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong; if you vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.”
God has one prescription in two doses for those suffering from barriers erected by sin. The first step is for us to walk in the light by confessing our sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). There are no elaborate protocols required for confession. The Greek word for confession in this verse, (homologeo) simply means to concede that something is factual or true—to admit that we did something wrong.
The second step, which is really already done, is that God deals justly with our transgressions by placing the blame on Jesus and accepting His perfect sacrifice for our sins. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Adam and Eve discovered this. God exposed their sin to the light, removed their pitiful fig leaves, then clothed them with animal skins—animals slain on their behalf as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that would be needed for their sins.
It is a wonderful thing that Jesus is our perfect Sacrifice who enables God to forgive our sins, tear down the barriers to relationship, and bring us out into the shining sun of His presence. Confession opens us up to enjoy freedom in relationship with Him—no hiding behind trees, no fig-leaf togas of shameful deception. Confession enables us to walk openly in the garden with our Lord, enjoying His company and talking with Him as friend with Friend.
What holds us back from confessing our sins when we know God will forgive us?
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