During the Season of Lent, our weekly devotional will feature a personal spiritual discipline for you to try engaging. This week’s discipline is Confession

Every week during worship, we offer corporate confession. Sometimes it takes the form of a responsive reading. Other times, it’s a song inviting God to change us or redirect us. Whatever form it takes, this confession of our sins is good. It is necessary. It is also not enough.

James 5:16 says “So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.” This is a process which happens on a personal level. On a one-on-one basis. It requires something more than a silent admission and a corporate absolution on a Sunday morning.

Sin is a word which gets misused a lot, and misunderstood even more often. For those of us who follow Jesus, a simple definition of sin is “anything which damages our relationship with God or with our neighbor.” When we damage our relationship with God, we have the joy of knowing that God always forgives us, and we receive a reminder of that absolution every week. But when the harm is to our relationship with others, it’s not God’s forgiveness we need to seek; it’s theirs.

For the discipline of confession, I invite you to think of someone with whom you’ve damaged your relationship, and seek their forgiveness. The goal of this practice is not simply to exchange an “I’m sorry” for an “I forgive you.” As the verse I quoted earlier puts it, the practice of confession is carried out “so that you may be healed.” Sin damages relationships, while the practice of confession repairs them. Sometimes, that reparation takes more than a simple acknowledgment of wrongdoing. When we confess, we declare ourselves ready to do what is necessary to make amends for what we have done, and then we do it.

Confess your sins to one another, and set your relationships right.