In a culture that downplays sin, the concept of confession may sound like an outdated relic from the past. Yet I have found confession to be vitally important in any relationship, whether with people or with God. When I confess something, I acknowledge the mess I’ve made, admit I was wrong, and place myself in the best position to experience reconciliation with the one I wronged or hurt.
In the Bible, the psalmist writes of the pain (physical? mental? emotional?) he experienced when he tried to ignore his guilt and then of the relief he felt when he confessed:
When I kept silent,
— my bones wasted away
— through my groaning all day long…
My strength was sapped
— as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
— and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
— my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
— the guilt of my sin. –– Psalm 32:3‑5
It reminds me of a story told by author Mark Buchanan about Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia in the 1700s. On one occasion he was inspecting the Berlin prison. As he walked through the rows of shackled men, they fell pleading at his feet, protesting their innocence. They claimed to be falsely accused, models of virtuous living, completely innocent of all crime.
Only one man didn’t do this. Frederick called to him, “Prisoner, why are you here?”
The prisoner replied, “I robbed a man, Your Majesty.”
“And are you guilty?” asked the king.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” came the reply.
Frederick called the guard over. Pointing at the man who confessed, he said, “Release this man immediately. I will not have this scoundrel thief kept here where he might corrupt all these other fine, virtuous, and innocent men.”
That’s the lovely irony of confession: The one who actually confesses gets out of prison and goes free.
These reflections appear in today’s edition of the Rock Valley Bee.