Receiving Forgiveness

“The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the LORD will be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a)

I saw a television program once in which a young boy accidentally killed his younger brother. They were playing with their father’s gun at the time, when accidentally the young boy pulled the trigger to the gun. Of course, he did not know it was loaded. The result of this was that the surviving brother was left with feelings of guilt to the point where forever afterwards he let himself be pushed around by others. In fact, so much did he feel guilty, he let himself be utterly abused and did not raise his voice to defend himself when needed.

Why did the brother of the dead boy refuse to raise his voice forever afterwards? I think the answer is that, in letting himself be abused by others, he felt that he was receiving his “just reward” for his foolish act. (In any event, this is what the story portrays.) And indeed, this is certainly true-to-life in the case of many people. The older brother (though young as he was at the time) was guilt-ridden. And he let those feelings of guilt – which in fact resulted from something which was an accident – weigh him down to the point of almost destroying him later on in life.

Of course, this is only a story. But the story doesn’t end here. Because of the boy’s fear of being rejected by others, he never tells anyone about what happened. Instead, he lies and so tries to cover up what really happened. The truth is that he pulled the trigger. But he kept telling everyone that he found his brother dead before he got to the scene. Because of the older brother’s fear of being rejected by others, this prevented him from revealing (confessing) the truth to others and receiving the assurance that he was forgiven for his so-called “crime” – which really wasn’t a crime at all, but rather merely an accident which occurred during a playful time – albeit it was a terrible accident.

The fear of being rejected by others can cause a lot of problems in a person’s life. This young man was left with feelings of guilt, and he really could not get over these feelings until he properly processed them. The older brother needed to know that he could be forgiven for what he did, and that he was not the most evil person in the world because he did it. Once he would begin to “confess” and “reveal” the truth about what happened, this would enable him to stop living in fear and begin living a normal life. Of course, this may only be a story, but, by the same token, we all know how real this scenario can be in our own lives.

It is an entirely real possibility for every one of us, in one form or another, to experience the former type of event, and – if we are not careful – to re-experience it over and over again in our own lives. What we need to do is to “get it out” into the open. That is, we need to be willing to humble ourselves to the point of confessing all of those things which have been a hindrance to us, such as things which we have done when we were smaller which made us feel “ugly” and “unacceptable.”

When we confess our sins, our faults, or anything hidden from the past to another (albeit to a person whom we can feel confident with) and/or to God, we open up the gateway of our lives to receiving forgiveness from others, and from God. This allows us to be “set free,” so that we can carry on with our lives – and also, so we can stop inflicting self-abuse on ourselves. As well, we begin to realize that we are not the only person in this situation. We are one of many, and called to distribute the healing power of God’s forgiveness to others, as well.