I have always heard the phrase, “Confession is good for the soul.” In my case, I suppose it was in the context of my parents knowing what I did anyway so I might as well fess up. The “good for the soul” part might have come from the Catholic church where one of the seven sacraments is confession, but my confession was good for my back end.
What I want to address today is confession and how it relates to our marriage. The Bible talks about confession quite a lot, for instance James write:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)
Consider for a moment the last time you hurt your wife. An unkind word, impatient gesture, or a harsh tone from you that did some damage. Something in the last day or so will do just fine. Let’s assume for a moment that you have not resolved that offense. What would be easier to do?
- Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? Well, I’m sorry.”
- Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? I was wrong, will you forgive me?”
Granted, we may have to admit that we would find either statement hard to say, but if we want to promote a healthy relationship, does it make a difference how we “confess our sins to each other?”
Most people find it much easier to say, “I’m sorry,” than to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” Why is that? Are they interchangeable expressions, or do they approach an offended person with very different messages? Consider for a moment that the first is actually a non-confessional statement quite capable of causing further offense, while the second is an example of genuine confession.
“I’m sorry” states a feeling but gives the other person no opportunity to respond. It’s not much more that a vague report of being uncomfortable. It doesn’t really take responsibility or accept the vulnerability of confession. It’s not even clear: Am I sorry you got hurt or sorry that I hurt you? The phrase, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t risk having the other person say, “I don’t forgive you.” That’s why we say, “I’m sorry”–because we’re really not.
“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” is scary, because:
- It lets down our defenses.
- It gives your wife a clear opportunity to retaliate.
- It forces us to reverse positions, and we might get hurt.
- It allows the depth of the offense to become clear, perhaps your wife isn’t ready to forgive.
“I’m sorry” doesn’t ask for forgiveness, but “Will you forgive me” recognizes that forgiveness isn’t something we can take for granted.
Application: So, do you want to be healed? Do you want your marriage healed? Are you willing to take the risk of becoming vulnerable in order to visualize God design for your marriage? What do you need to do TODAY as far as confession? Is there repentance that needs to take place? How many bridges have you burned? Too many? Did you violate a trust or do you leave your underwear on the floor all the time? Confession and repentance is the key with our relationship with God, think about how that works with your wife, too.
The statement above says, “When confession is a good thing.” I dare say it is always the best policy; from the heart and done quickly. Don’t allow anger and bitterness to build up.
Hey, take a look at this testimony of Joel and Susan. Well worth your time to see this.