Those are some very tough words to say and yet, we know we all need to say it at one point or another. Right now, I’m going through Alfred Poirier’s “The Peace-Making Pastor,” in which Mr Poirier shares lesson from experience and practical steps for mediation of conflicts within the church. He makes an interesting point on page 124 that, “too often we as church leaders assume that our people know what a good confession is.” He goes on to say that he’s witness a lot of poor confessions that actually made the situation worst! “Ironically, the confessor too often subverts the very intent of his or her confession by using an accusatory tone of voice or making a halfhearted appeal.” He then goes on to share Ken Sade’s “Seven A’s of Confession,” with a little modification and as I read through that, I realized that this is beneficial to all to know.
- Address Everyone Involved. We must not only address God and the one we have offended, but we must consider if there are others that we have indirectly offended. “There fore, we need to address everyone involved: God, the person we offended, and the others watching” (126).
- Avoid If, But, and Maybe. “If, but, and maybe are confession stoppers. They effectively erase every word confessed before and after them” (127). He suggests a good way to test the “strength of our confession” is to say it to God. Does “God, I’m sorry for looking at pornography, but I wasn’t try to!” sound like a confession to you?
- Admit Specifically. While admitting specifically doesn’t mean that forgiveness is contingent on articulating every sin in every detail possible, it does show the one you’ve offended that you understand what you’ve done, how you have sinned against them and how you have hurt them.
- Accept the consequences. People have trouble forgiving because the one confession has trouble accepting the consequences. This step is akin to not only embracing God’s forgiveness, but also to his call of repentance.
- Alter Your Behavior. “If our goal is to grow to be like Christ, then confession is not enough. We need to alter our behavior” (129). Additionally, this will show our sincerity to the person when we change the way we act.
- Ask Forgiveness. We often times assume that by saying “I’m sorry,” that we are also requesting forgiveness. We need to ask “Will you please forgive me?” because “by asking, we recognize and acknowledge that we do not and cannot forgive ourselves” (129).
- Allow Time. While God may forgive us right away, human beings do not. Some people have issues to work through first before they can say, “I forgive you.” Thus, we must separate our responsibilities from those who are being asked to give forgiveness. Additionally, “the counsel to allow time is not a counsel to do nothing” (130). In the meanwhile, to take proactive steps to give that person time, we can reflect on our sins, on Christ’s atoning work on the cross for us and pray for the offended one, that they would be set free from bitterness, revenge, grief, pain, hurt, etc.
In looking at that list, I can see areas in which I have grown and other areas in which I need to grow more. It is definitely a process that we go through, but as the body of Christ, if we are truly brothers and sisters in the Lord, then we need to learn to resolve conflicts among ourselves as a family!
I hope this is as beneficial to you all as it was for me!