Dry season is upon us here in Kampala. Dusting has become a daily job (not that I actually do it everyday 🙂 ). The broad leaves of the plants that grow by the roadside are heavy with a thick, red-brown coating, and I wouldn’t recommend riding a “boda” without sunglasses.
Last week, though, we got a good rain. I felt the satisfaction of knowing that the gates, the walkways, the shrubbery and even the dirt roads were getting a wash. It reminded me of something that has long encouraged my soul. The Bible teaches that when we are baptized, our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). We are clean and new (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet sometimes, truth be known, even as disciples walking the narrow road, we pick up some dust. That is why God has given us the glorious gifts of repentance and confession. The scriptures reveal that when we repent and turn to God “times of refreshing” come “from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-21). We are told that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Sounds a lot like cool rain on a grit-weary traveler.
Many believe that when the Bible speaks of confession it refers only to confessing to God, but James 5:16 teaches us to confess our sins “to one another.” As a young Christian I dreaded the confession of my sins. I felt overwhelming shame, fear and stress whenever I realized that I had done something or harbored some attitude that ought to be confessed. I would put it off until just the right moment, and carry the weight of it in all my interactions. Somewhere along the way the Lord impressed on me that confession is a blessing and not a trial. Baptism is the great bath of our souls. Repentance and confession are our daily showers. Somewhere along the way I also realized that, while all sin is shameful, the shame is before God more than other believers. If he already knows about the angry tone I used with my children or the fearful doubt that I allowed to pervade my thoughts, why would I hide them from my fellow-sojourners who also battle their own sinful natures? I learned instead of stewing and procrastinating to seek the refreshment of confession as quickly as possible.
Two more blessings that we receive when we regularly cleanse our souls through confession are depth of fellowship and power over sin. 1 John 1:9 says that “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” I believe that the primary meaning of “walking in the light” has to do with living a godly life, but I also know that sin thrives in the dark. When brought into the light, much of its power simply vanishes (James 4:7). Our fellowship with one another deepens as we humble ourselves and allow others to minister to our need. Finally, we pray for one another, and, as James tells us (right after his admonition to confess our sins to one another), “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”