James 5:16 (NIV): “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
For the past few weeks I have been thinking about the importance of sharing our testimonies with others. I mean I often think of sharing testimonies with others but I am currently referring to the sins we’ve committed that we think are the heaviest and most burdensome. This misconception is why an individual may find it easier to confess being a liar when compared to confessing being an adulterer. It is important to identify and discard the idea of thinking some sins are heavier than others because that isn’t supported by the Word. James 2:10 (NIV): “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” It is important to recognize that sin is sin and God doesn’t instruct us to hide any specific type of transgression. Place it all at His feet.
Many months ago I once said that there are some things I would NEVER share. I was making empty promises because let me tell you…It hasn’t even been 6 months since I first made that statement and yes, as you can guess, I shared some of my “deepest” and “darkest” secrets. It isn’t a bad thing to share and confess seeing that it is a miraculous experience to be set free by the Truth! The song posted above really engaged my thoughts about being specific in conversations with others. Philippians 2:4 (NIV): “Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The song is essentially asking God to take away one’s shame and in the same breath asking God to shine His light through them. There are no secrets in Christ Jesus (John 18:20, Matthew 10:26).
As I write this article I am writing it to whomever may be reading it but first I am writing about this concern to myself. Earlier this week I was speaking with a classmate. The conversation began with a simple, “Hey !” but ended with a feeling of accomplishment….well at least for me. At the time that I spoke with my classmate she mentioned the feeling of “backsliding” in her relationship with the Lord, a new battle with the vice of alcohol consumption, and rocky relationships with others. I am no specialist but I can personally attest to the experience of God delivering me from alcohol addiction. As far as rocky relationships? I am constantly asking God to restore His ordained relationships and to remove those that He forbids. I am only saying that I can relate. Consequently, we talked for so long that I was almost late for my next class. You never know how the Holy Spirit will move so I am no longer surprised when things don’t go as I had planned. In conclusion, I was able to share with her my past experience with alcohol addiction. She appeared to be surprised to know that I was once in bondage to a spirit of alcoholism that later presented opportunities for greater entanglement with a spirit of anger. Reflecting on the many weekends I spent hungover is not my favorite thing to do during my spare time but I am proud to proclaim that Christ is the reason why I am no longer. And to think, shame would have kept my mouth closed!
Lets examine a scenario. Imagine having been out of school for two weeks because of a reason beyond your control. When you arrive back to school you find out that everyone did horribly on the last test so the teacher decided to give everyone a second attempt on the most missed questions. After you get caught up on upcoming assignments, the teacher allows the class to partner up to discuss questions they may have regarding the material and to share the answers they had gotten correct. Notice that the teacher gave permission and even encouraged that the individuals help each other. You look around the room and you see everyone working diligently so you immediately become optimistic hoping that your partner will share what is necessary for you to do well on the next test. An hour passes and when you ask your partner for answers or inquire about what to expect on the next exam your partner constantly responds, “Oh, just some stuff.” You look at your partner and ask, “So do you understand how you got the answer? I am a bit confused. Would you mind giving me insight on how you learned how to solve the problem correctly? Then your partner answers, ” Well, I just looked some stuff up online, tried a few things, and then pieces began to fall into place.” —– You would be beyond frustrated right? Well imagine those who are dealing with more serious matters. Think of those who are more than frustrated and are burdened by tormenting, sorrow, and utter desolation. I am a firm believer in the fact that God sometimes kills two birds with one stone. Similar to the strategy used by the teacher in this scenario, our Teacher may be presenting opportunities to take another step closer to becoming free as we help free others. Our obedience or disobedience never stops His show but regardless, do what He tells you to do.
Confessing to God FIRST!! When things are first made right with Him, He may then give instructions regarding how and what to share with others.
Psalm 32:5 (NIV): “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgression to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Be specific! You never know who may be waiting and listening for you to share a part of your testimony that they can relate to. This of course should agree with the commands God has given you. There has been times when He has told me to be vague with someone because that person wasn’t in a place to receive what it was I could have shared or merely because at that moment I wasn’t strong enough to share it. Exodus 4:12 (NIV): ” Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” The Holy Spirit is faithful in all things, including guiding conversations to set captives free. You never want to do more damage than help. If God has called you to plant a seed, don’t go around trying to water or nourish them.
Be mindful of the person who may feel the way you one day felt. The person who may be sitting in an audience waiting to know that they aren’t alone in a specific battle. While you may be speaking generally about lust there may be a person yearning to discuss their battle against fornication…or masturbation…or beastility. You may be mentioning past addictions ditching and dodging certain words or phrases while someone in the crowd may be anticipating conversation about alcoholism or specific drugs addictions. Would you want to leave someone in the dark because of the shame you associate with a specific sin you’ve committed in the past??? I mean seriously, envision if the extra help and comfort God has given you was hiding testimonies not because God told them to but because they were too ashamed? I know for myself I would be thinking, forget your shame and lets discuss the issue at hand.
Beat condemnation from Satan to the punch. Condemnation is not from God and thus will not have the ability to taunt you if you place your sins at the altar. I am speaking from experience. I was once the queen of beating around the bush when it came time to confessing sin. HONESTLY: Sometimes I still feel tempted to have “selective discussions.” But on the other end I LOVE when others are specific and completely honest while sharing testimonies with me. Talk about wanting to take it all but not wanting to give anything. Thankfully, God is changing that.
If you’re a murderer then don’t say you didn’t really kill someone when you did. If you have a history of stealing don’t go around stating that you were just borrowing merchandise. If you were once in bondage to alcoholism don’t try to use the infamous “Jesus drank wine” excuse. When confessing sins and sharing them with others, there isn’t any place for kind of(s) or sort of(s). State what it is for what it is. Remain focused on the proposal that you can be the vessel God is using to help bring comfort and support to someone else. Proverbs 28:13 (NIV): “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Everything the enemy means for evil God will change for good so He may be edified. So be specific and kick shame to the curb.