, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Saddle Row Review”

The main part of this episode is devoted to going through a review story on Rarity’s newest boutique from the different accounts of everypony who contributed to it. However, the setup for the episode is a bit different. Realizing that they didn’t exactly do the “stellar” job that Rarity expected of them and that the review exposes all of their mistakes and, consequently, how they nearly ruined the opening of her new store, the rest of the Mane Six make an ultimately futile attempt to keep Rarity from even reading the review or at least mitigating the impact. Obviously, they hope that Rarity will only be focused on her boutique’s opening and not get caught up in the details; fearing how she will react to their mistakes in spite of the event going well in the end.

Thinking this over got me to think about Christianity–in particular a Christian’s confession and remission of sins. Seems like a big leap, I know…but there’s something here that I caught on to. As any Christian knows, we confess our sins to God as part of receiving forgiveness. Yet for me personally, and in my experience many other Christians, we sometimes get caught up on what confession to God really is.

I will admit that, even as a Christian, I have had thoughts and inclinations before that were rather un-Christian. And some of the sins that I have committed have been through motives that were anything but Christ-like. I’m not talking about momentary slips or blow-ups, or anything that as soon as I do it I feel bad about. I’m talking about harboring things, thoughts, and feelings inside me for long periods…things that I would never confess to anyone else. And why? Because I, like many of us, know human nature. We know full well that most people, including many so-called Christians, will only “tolerate” a certain level of confession and still see us in the same way. I know that because I confess that I myself can only handle so much before I stop seeing the sin as something external to the person and start thinking that only a certain type of person would commit that transgression in the first place. Most people are likely the same. Rare and few-and-far-between is the individual we can truly trust with everything. In these situations, to even admit these thoughts and feelings about ourselves hurts our own self-image because these are things that we believe reflects on us as individuals rather than just our conduct. That only a certain type of individual would even think or feel such things. It makes us start to think we are especially and particularly bad and wicked…perhaps even irredeemably so.

So what happens in these situations? These are the sort of sinful thoughts and motives we “omit” to God. After all, there’s a good chance we neither directly act on these or, if we do, that we do so regularly, so there’s no “external” sin. So why confess? Not all thoughts that come in our heads are necessarily sin, after all. Some are just temptations. And even if we nursed one in particular, or even expressed it in ways that no one was hurt by or knew about, can’t we excuse that one? At these times, we are all the less eager to confess these things to God…possibly because we feel they aren’t “real” unless we act on them or do something more overt and physical with them…such as confess them. The reason is usually shame and feelings of self-loathing and hatred that would be associated with accepting these things. Perhaps acknowledging that we have a sinful habit and that we still have a desire to do it again even if we did confess. To confess means to acknowledge and admit it, and that, in turn, will give us not only a lower view of ourselves but possibly seeing ourselves as truly evil, depraved, and unlovable. If we hate to admit those things to ourselves, how much less so could we admit it to God?

I think this might be more of a problem with people who are perfectionists or have a God-concept that is more akin to one of fiery wrath and judgment, but even if it isn’t, the problem with this thinking is still the same.

The fact is God already knows our thoughts and feelings. He already saw what we were thinking when we thought of it, and what we did when we acted on it. By confessing or not confessing, we are neither telling God more than he already knows nor keeping things hidden from him. It’s as pointless as Adam and Eve’s fig leaves. (Genesis 3:7) God knows our motives and knows the true wickedness that was behind them, and any secret evil thoughts that we harbored and nursed as well as what we did when no one is looking.

Yet that, in turn, is not supposed to repel us from God but have us cling more fiercely to Jesus. Feelings like godly shame (as opposed to false shame) and godly sorrow are supposed to make us more aware of our own sinfulness, wickedness, and broken condition not so that we can go around feeling terrible and waiting for God to smite us for “being the worms we are”, but to highlight why we need the gift of Lord Jesus’ salvation. As I said, God already knows all of these things. He also loves us all unconditionally, enough to send his only Son to die in our place and absolve us all, in spite of all of these things which he knew in advance before the foundation of the world. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Confession is more for our own benefit than that of God. We see what’s wrong with our lives, we admit what’s wrong with our lives, we also admit that we alone can’t do anything about it (whether it be to absolve ourselves or even to be able to fully repent on our own), and then we trust fully in Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to fully cover that sin.

In other words, confession and repentance of sin isn’t about approaching God for a harsh punishment for our evil or even about feeling low down and dirty about ourselves. It’s about being set free from our evil that we are powerless to break from ourselves, and thereby be free internally and externally to fully live and fully love.

The next time you feel shame or fear about confession of sin, my advice is to take a moment to be a bit more humble about yourself than you are being. Humble enough to realize you aren’t fooling God by keeping silent. Humble enough to realize you can’t fix this on your own, “get perfect”, and then hope to one day come before God as if it didn’t even happen (like the characters in this episode did with Rarity). And humble enough to accept that Jesus Christ has already covered this and infinitely more.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Word and all that is contained within: including the passages that display your holiness and demands from the Law, as well as your reassurance and salvation presented by the Gospel. Help me to know that everything is in your hands, including my past, present, and future, and that I can trust you in all things with everything. Especially help me to remember this in times of confession, knowing that through the power of your Son, Jesus Christ, I will not be condemned but set free. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”