"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." Proverbs 28:13
"Allyson go put that yardstick away!" She was not quite three and we lived in a 1,200 sq. foot patio home. In this tightly packed space there was no margin for error. Our youngest had proved over and over again that she did not need an extension to her sphere of influence. She was a one tot wrecking crew and she could break an anvil. When I saw her walking and waving it through the air as she moved through the maze of lamps, vases, and ceramics, I knew she needed to be stopped. Her new toy was a three foot long wooden yardstick. Dana kept it in her sewing closet. I knew from experience that this new combination of a short kid and a long stick was going to be trouble. I decided to nip it in the bud before it brought forth bitter fruit. Sorry for the prose. Been reading Proverbs...alot! She obeyed my wise counsel, by turning sadly, and dragging it behind her, and trudging back to her mom's sewing closet. Her head was bowed, and her shoulders slumped. She had just lost her new best friend. I felt bad, but I knew it was for her own good.
In a few minutes, Allyson was back in my study. This was not hard to do. I had an open door policy with my girls, and I shared a study with Dana's sewing room. Did I tell you we were crowded? I will never forget the exchange that followed. Allyson was back with the yardstick. She had it hidden behind her buns, and holding it with both hands. I asked her if she had done what I told her to do. She said, "Yes!" I asked her again, "Did you put the yardstick away?" She nodded her head up and down with enthusiasm. I could see most of the yardstick. There was roughly 15 inches of yard sticking out on both sides of her seat. Here's the bottom line. I knew the answer to my questions before I asked them. I wasn't seeking for information. I was looking for a confession. In her childish zeal to obey, and still get her way, she had put it away in the closet, and then returned with it behind her back. She thought she could adjust my reasoning, if she stopped waving it around. For good measure, she hid it from my sight. After all, what I didn't know wouldn't get in the way of what she wanted to do. Raising children will give you a strong conviction about the reality of original sin.
"He who conceals his transgression will not prosper." Proverbs warns against concealing what we have done wrong. This kind of behavior results in costly consequences. On the other hand, God place a high value on confessing and forsaking behavior that crosses the line between right and wrong. Why does He want a confession when already has access to information? He obviously does not need to know what we have done. He even knows why we did it. The answer to the question must have to do with disciplining His children. They learn from admitting and rejecting errant behavior. Knowing the right thing to do, and doing the right thing are not the same thing. Wisdom is developed by learning to trust God to have His children's best interest at heart, even when it appears He may be a spoilsport.
Transgression is a fancy word for trespassing or coloring outside the lines. Crayons and coloring books have taught me a great deal about life. It didn't hurt that coloring was one of the things I loved to do most with our girls. I was taught how to color inside the lines and I passed my skill on to them. I showed them that if you take your crayola and heavily pressed it all around the outline of your picture before you started coloring, it would leave an impression on the paper and help you stay inside the lines. Anyone who has ever looked at a child's coloring book will have a clear picture of the human condition. We all have trouble staying inside the lines. We are prone to wander outside the lines, and invent our own picture of reality. By pressing the Word of God upon our minds and hearts, before we encounter the wandering way of the world, we get a better picture of God's best for us.
"Confessing and forsaking" are the heads and tails of the same coin. God values "confessing" because it calls on His children to admit to themselves what they have done wrong to Him, and to agree with God on the price He paid to forgive them for it.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
James, pastor the first church in Jerusalem, and brother of Jesus, lead his people to admit to each other when they had crossed the line. Keeping short accounts with God and with His children makes for a great family reunion.
"Confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16
The transgression was against and a reflection on Him. "Forsaking" takes into account the tendency of people to be sorry for getting caught. First sermon Jesus preached after His baptism was call for people to turn away from their wrong direction in life, and return to God for a renewed sense of direction.
"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:17
Children learn very early to say, "I'm sorry!" This is called talking the talk. They have a longer learning curve when it comes to walking the walk. The key to a turn around is the lack of regret for what one is leaving behind. People have a tendency to talk about their past, as if they miss the good ol' days. If there are regrets about leaving something behind on the highway of life, it may still be packed away in the trunk of the heart. There may be a need to stop and remove that dead body before continuing the turn around journey.
"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death." 2 Cor. 7:10
Wayward adults are children who have never learned to turn their lives around without carrying excess baggage from the past. To confess and remain unwilling to turn to God and away from the behavior that He condemns gains no value in God's kingdom. He mints His coins with "Confess" on one side, and "Forsake" on the other. He wants His children to prosper in the development of their character. A life that is spent without accepting His values will be lead to spiritual bankruptcy. His compassion is available, and freely given to those who are looking for mercy from Him. He will not turn a blind eye to a rebellious child. His love includes His discipline. Confessing and forsaking need to be more than change in our pockets. They must reflect a change in our hearts to know the true value of the full love of God.