Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Risk of Confessing Our Sins

Just came across this from a John Piper sermon, 20+ years ago, on the risk of admitting our sins:
Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." And James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed."

But this is risky business. It's much safer—in the short run—to keep quiet about your struggle with lust or homosexual feelings or alcohol or food or anger. And I don't mean to say that every skirmish of the soul should go public. But on the other hand, James does mean something when he says, "Confess your sins to each other." There is a kind of privacy with sin that paralyzes. There is a kind of concealing that can kill faith.

About a year ago the editor of Partnership magazine called and asked if she and a photographer could come to our house to interview Noël and me for one of their feature articles. They always feature some smiling pastoral couple on the front of their magazine for pastors' wives.

Noël said she would check with me and let her know. Well, it just so happened that things were not good on the home front at that time. We were upset with each other and there were unresolved tensions between us. And so my response was: No way! I could no more sit down like a model pastor's couple and smile for pictures than I could feel happy about the way things were.

What are we going to do? She expected us to call back. What would you have done? What would the editor think if I called and said, "Things aren't good here and I don't think we should do the interview. It would be too inauthentic"? Would she think we were about to get divorced, and spread the word around the Christianity Today offices that John Piper's marriage is on the rocks?

It may sound like a small thing, but that was one of the hardest phone calls I have had to make in years. But to me righteousness and integrity—the cause of God—were at stake. And so we took the risk. We called off the interview. And that is all I know to this day.

Some of you have taken significant risks in this whole area of relationships and are much the better for it today. Others of you are hurting yourselves and the cause of God by bottling up something that someone should know about—some grudge, some failure, some habit, some remorse. May the Lord give us the wisdom to know the difference between an unhealthy indulgence in self-exposure on the one hand and the biblical risk of authenticity and confession on the other.