James 5:16 (NKJV)
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
As human beings we frequently endeavor to put on a front in order to prevent others from knowing who we really are. Fearful of rejection, we hide our struggles, we hide our doubts, we even hide our fears because our standing with others is based on our own performance, our own worth. So we often live painfully alone.
But Jesus frees us from this loneliness and fear. In Jesus we behold the love of God reaching out to us and rescuing us even though He knows exactly who we are and what we’ve done. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Our standing with God is not based on what we have done, what we are doing, or what we will do – but solely on the righteousness of Christ who has given Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed.
Consequently, Jesus empowers us to be honest with others, particularly with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can be honest, we can avoid putting on a front, we can seek help and accountability and encouragement because we know that God accepts us, God is on our side, God loves us – not because of our deeds but because of Jesus’ deeds. So freed from the paralyzing fear of what others think of me, I can confess to my brother in Christ, confess to my sister in Christ – I need your help.
And if that brother or sister looks at me and says, “My god! What kind of freak are you!”; if that brother or sister refuses to help, rejects me, then I can rest in the knowledge that God is still on my side. “I have sought God’s forgiveness in Christ; so even though my brother has rejected me, God has not.” And in the knowledge of God’s favor I can approach another brother or sister for help, for encouragement, for accountability.
But as Christians we often fail to believe the Gospel, fail to believe that our standing with God really is dependent on Christ’s work and not on ours, and so we begin erecting fronts once again. We are fearful of confessing our sins to one another; fearful of seeking help; “Everyone else seems to have it all together,” we say to ourselves. “If I tell them my struggles then they might not speak with me any more.” And so we erect a stunning façade but inside we’re becoming increasingly empty and lifeless.
James exhorts us, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” In the knowledge that God has forgiven us, that we are right with God because of Jesus’ sacrificial atonement, let us confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may be healed, that we may grow in righteousness, grow in our ability to please the Lord who has loved us. Let us cease hiding; cease erecting facades, cease playing at following Christ. Let us pray for one another so that the joy on our faces, the delight in our eyes, the comfort in our souls be not merely a façade but reflect what is truly reality. And let us begin by confessing our sins corporately this day.