As we model the humility that change requires, we definitely need a realistic view of our own sinfulness and need for God’s grace. But if we keep our story to ourselves and only utter philosophical or general admission of our own shortcomings, we’re missing out. And so is the teen who’s carefully watching us.
We Benefit from Our Own Confession
In Evangelical churches, we may all breathe a sigh of relief at not having to confess our sins to a priest or pastor. But James 5:16 actually encourages us to confess our sins to one another! No hiding behind carefully managed masks, no pretense. If the humility to admit our shortcomings to God is hard, this is even harder: admitting our own sinfulness to fellow sinners.
Romans 12:2 describes the Christian life as one of constant transformation — rather than instant conformity that requires no continued growth. When we constantly find ourselves sensing our own sinfulness and the need for grace to change, we’re achieving exactly what God wants for us. This transformation is hard, but it brings more joy to Heaven than perfect behavior (Luke 15:7) — probably because the only truly perfect person is Jesus Christ, anyway. And those who think they don’t need to change are self-deceived.
Others Benefit from Our Confession
In addition to helping us realize greater humility and tap into God’s grace for continual transformation, God can use our own confession to help others in their own journeys, too. How, exactly, does it help others to know we’ve blown it, and that we’ve repented?
First, they can appreciate God’s grace in our hearts, prompting our humility. If they know us (and their own hearts) well at all, they’ll recognize that break from our prideful desire to present ourselves well and realize that God is doing a transforming work in our hearts. That effect, in itself, brings God glory and does others good.
But if that person is struggling with sin as well, our open confession can be a tool God uses to prompt their own repentance. Sometimes a person may be dealing with similar sin and will be able to benefit even more specifically through hearing your story.
Our Relationships Benefit from Our Confession
God wants us to grow closer to Him and one another, and through confession, we can achieve both. When we recognize our common sinfulness and need for God to intervene, we share a bond. When we encourage one another through accountability, we form relationships that go beyond the surface level. Not only do we benefit from such deepening relationships, but those who see how God is transforming us and our relationships will recognize the love we share (John 13:35).
If we’re surprised at how God can use our weakest points to drive us closer to Him and to each other, we shouldn’t be. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul describes God’s propensity for using human weakness to showcase His great strength. As we constantly renew our minds and sing new songs, God will use our stories to prompt change in others (Psalm 40:3).