Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 11: Confession and Compassion

We know that confession is a biblical mandate. I'm not talking here about confessing your sins to a priest ... but I am talking about two different biblical contexts in which confession is urged:

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins (to God), He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16 - Therefore (because faith-filled prayer works for healing) confess yours sins to each other, praying for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Clear enough, but hard to do. Confession takes humility, faith, and a soft heart. Our natural tendency is to hide our sin (from God and people) as long and as well as we possibly can. But healing lies in the other direction.

But there is another (less obvious) mandate for "confession" in Scripture which we don't normally talk about. Paul touches on it in 2 Corinthians 9:13 --
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
We often say, "I confessed Christ at age such-and-such." What we mean is, "I admitted to God that I am a sinner and He is my savior; and I admitted to the public that I was staking my claim with Him, as a child of God. That is my identity." This use of the word "confession" means to agree to or admit something.

And what is fascinating about this passage is that, for the Corinthians, this confession did not stand alone. Often, for us, it does (unfortunately). We "confess Christ" and think that's the end of it; we see nothing more as necessary. But in the case of the Corinthians, their confession of Christ was accompanied with compassionate generosity for the needs of others. This generosity, this sharing, was the "obedience" that accompanied and proved their confession of faith!

Mature Christians discover and know that there is a unique joy in giving. In giving to others, exercising compassionate generosity in meeting their needs, we are in reality giving to Christ, according to His words in Matthew 25.

Isaiah 58:8 says that when you exercise this particular type of obedience, "Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."

Do you want your "light to break forth like the dawn?" I know I do. My confession of Christ must therefore be coupled with (and proven by) compassionate generosity to help meet the needs of others.

No comments: