Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
Happy are the pure in heart. Matthew 5:8
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
I heard someone say one time that as Christians, we are quick to say we are all sinners….but we are reluctant to admit that we actually do sin. This step requires us to admit that we sin not only to ourselves and God but to another person!!!
The God part was not as hard for me when I came to this step…..I know He knows my heart, my motives, my thoughts and my actions…..so I knew that I wasn’t telling Him anything that He didn’t already know. Although I was pretty deep in denial in the beginning, I did come to a point where I recognized my shortcomings and character defects after working through the first 4 steps. I had to come face to face with my weakness and sin if I was truly going to do an open and honest inventory.
BUT to tell another person….now that was an entirely different story. I am in recovery from co-dependency with people pleasing being one of the specific areas where I struggle. I was concerned how ‘telling another human being the exact nature of my wrongs’ might change how I was perceived by this other person……this person might not like me anymore….and being accepted and liked is the ultimate need of a people pleaser.
God encouraged me, however, to move forward with this step. In Proverbs 28:13 He tells us, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” In James 5:16, He says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
What I experienced when I was finally obedient and shared my inventory with another person, was not rejection but love and acceptance in spite of all the awful things I shared plus total freedom from the burden and weight of those sins. I no longer had to work at maintaining a façade of being the perfect person I thought everyone expected me to be trying to hide the dark side of my sinful nature….but I could relax and be who I really was – an imperfect person with a sinful nature who actually does sin!! Only through loving the Lord and leaning on Him can I overcome my hurts, habits and hang-ups and live the abundant life He has promised.
This was a real turning point in my recovery… I began to see trying to please people brought only anxiety, pain and a lack of self worth……focusing on pleasing God, however, brought peace, joy and contentment. John Baker sums up this step and principle this way: “In confession, we open our lives to the healing, reconciling, restoring, uplifting grace of Jesus Christ who loves us in spite of ourselves.”
Don’t let pride, shame or fear prevent you from experiencing the freedom that comes from confessing your sins to God, to yourself and to another human being. Recovery requires honesty. Psalm 32:3-5 says, “There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration…My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”