My old neighbour in Saskatchewan has been known to say, “A wise man admits his weaknesses. I’d admit mine if I had any.” His wife Ruby is always ready to suggest a few of his weaknesses, but Ed claims that they do not count as they are a matter of her opinion, not proven fact.
If it’s hard to be humble, it is also difficult to admit even little faults about ourselves. We may get lots of practice speaking about the various-sized sins of others, but confessing our own mistakes may choke us up. It is said that confession is good for the soul. It is also suggested that we confess little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones.
When it comes to confession by Christians, the Catholic confessional booth has served admirably for the private confession of sins. To confess fully, it is suggested that the veil of secrecy of the booth results in the willingness to divulge one’s sins. It can be very humbling and embarrassing to own up to the priest our sins, both large and small. It can also be as humbling and embarrassing to confess our personal sins to another person who is not of the clergy.
Many church services begin with a public confession of sins, which recognizes that all of us are sinners in need of forgiveness. The Bible says it this way: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar, and his word has no place in our lives.”
An example of a public confession of sins is as follows: “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.” (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer)
We confess our sins privately or in a public confession of our sinfulness at church, that we might be renewed in the forgiveness of God for us through our faith in Christ. There is joy in our souls because of God's mercy to us, but receiving God’s forgiveness means we are to extend forgiveness to others. It can be a struggle to admit to our own sins and another struggle to forgive others that have hurt us. It is easy to have negative thoughts and a desire not to forgive others. We may have feelings of revenge, but revenge is the Lord’s to administer. We say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In loving kindness, God does not deal with us according to what our sins deserve, but graciously removes our sins from us.