In 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, the apostle Paul provided mankind with a template for Love when he wrote, “Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete” (The Voice).
If we were to make this the template to pattern our behavior after, we just might discover that we have much to work on to copy this divine concept of love.
When I repeatedly bumped into the consequences of my misconducts, I searched the scriptures, as I often do, for answers and after typing the word “love” in the search window, I came across many citations. The one that stood out to me was the apostle Paul’s eloquent description of Love.
After reading it and comparing it to my previous actions, I was ashamed. I knew that I needed to reconstruct the model of love that I held in thought, and the one of which I had been emulating. It was time for me to stop the excuses and self-justification, roll up my sleeves, and take up the work necessary if I wanted my experiences to be more loving and one day reflect the love that Paul described to the Corinthians.
I decided to go through Paul’s description of love, line-by-line, and treat it as a directive. In the very first verse Paul declares that “love is patient,” and he follows with “love is not self-absorbed” and “love is not easily upset.” Contemplating and implementing those concepts seemed impossible to me! I knew I had to do whatever it took to supplant those old ways of acting because they were not harmonious.
At first I was discouraged. My past behaviors were not all in alignment with Paul’s exegesis, and I was going to need help!
I prayed fervently that the Holy Spirit of God intervene on my behalf and transform my dissonant behavior.
However, there was a step I had to take before any of that would unfold.
I needed to admit my errors and make a genuine confession.
Yikes! That was frightening!
The following two citations from the Bible, regarding the benefits of confession, gave me hope and inspired me to move ahead and divulge my infractions.
In 1 John 1:9, it is written, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV).
In the book of Psalms, Psalm 51:10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (ESV).
Confessing to God (not that I could keep a secret from the All-Knowing!) and openly acknowledging and taking accountability for my choices and actions was an imperative step to freeing my conscience, and this acceptance of accountability set a course for a new and more flourishing way to live.
In the book of Proverbs 28:13, it is written, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (ESV). And mercy is what I needed!
In Scientific American, psychologist James W. Pennebaker wrote, “Any type of open and truthful disclosure reduces stress and helps individuals come to terms with their behavior. It is not coincidental that some of the most powerful people or institutions in many cultures encourage people to confess their transgressions. And there is very strong evidence that writing about upsetting experiences or dark secrets can benefit your mental and physical well-being.”1
Confessing sins may be compared to cleansing, which is very refreshing! And by relinquishing sins to God, there is liberation. A freedom from sin!
In the book of Isiah, in the old testament, he wrote in chapter 1:18, “"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "” “Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” 2
Carrying transgressions around with you can be burdensome and may lead you to feel the need to cover them up for fear of embarrassment or bury them deep within, pretending they did not happen. None of those choices will set you free from the mental prison of veniality.
In Genesis 3, the story of original sin of Adam and Eve, it is written that after the sin was committed Adam and Eve’s next move was to cover up the transgression in hopes of hiding it from God. However, God asked Adam, “Where art thou?” not because God couldn’t find where Adam was physically but rather to prompt Adam to consider where he was in consciousness. Adam needed to respond to God’s question and check his own thinking with his choices of behavior. He realized that it was futile for him and Eve to continue to dodge God because God is omniscient. And like Adam and Eve, I would soon bump into the same realization.
St. Augustine said of confessing sins, “In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You.”
It is not an easy undertaking to admit your faults or to go before the throne of grace and plead the Almighty, but it is pertinent if we are to ever reflect, feel, and understand the potency of Love and its attributes.
For each one of us to attempt to mirror the love that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians, we must begin with a clean conscience, then ask God to flood it with His love until it runs over for others to witness and experience.
ESV-English Standard Version
1 Pennebaker, James. “Does Confessing Secrets Improve Our Mental Health?” Scientific American, Nature America, Inc., www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-confessing-secrets-improve-our-mental-health/.
2 NIV-New International Version, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide