Every human interaction has the potential for conflict.
Part of being a good steward is gaining the tools to maintain our relationships in a Christ-like manner.
Proverbs 28:13 tells us what we should do …
He or she who covers their sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Ken Sande, author of several books about how to be a peacemaker, gives us some practical advice on how to do this in the Seven A’s of Confession that he created.
The first A is ADDRESS … Address everyone involved meaning everyone who has been affected by what we have said and done. We need to consider that someone may not have heard or seen what we said or did, but they may be affected by the outcome.
The second A is AVOID … Avoid the words if, but, and maybe. We use these words to try to excuse our wrongs. We must remember that we are confessing our wrongs, not trying to avoid taking responsibility for them.
The third A is ADMIT … Admit both our attitudes and our actions. We must be real – authentic - about what we said or did.
The fourth A is ACKNOWLEDGE … Acknowledge that we have hurt someone. At the point where we need to confess our sins, we should have sorrow for the hurt we have caused. The Seven A’s of Confession are meant to help us get out of trouble. They are meant for us as we recognize and accept that we have hurt God’s children and we want to make things right with them and with God.
The fifth A is ACCEPT … Accept the consequences. As we follow God’s leading, we will know what we have to do to make things right.
The sixth A is ALTER … It’s time to alter our attitudes, our words, our actions so that they line up with the character of God. Confessing our sins reminds us that we are not to judge one another. Instead we are to love each other as we love ourselves. If we aren’t treating ourselves poorly, we will naturally treat others poorly too. We will have a love to think about if God is asking us to alter our behaviour.
The final A is ASK … ask for forgiveness. We can’t just say we’re sorry. We need to ask each other for forgiveness. We need to ask God to forgive us and then we need to forgive ourselves. This completes confessions and because God’s mercies are new every morning, we have a fresh start every day.
According to Ken Sande, when we forgive, we need to make these four promises:
We will not dwell on the incident.
We will not bring up this incident and use it against the other person.
We will not talk to others about this incident.
We will not allow this incident to stand between ourselves and the other person. Nor will we allow it to hinder our relationship.
In 1 John 2:9, 10 we read …
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Ken Sande’s Seven A’s of Confession and 4 Promises of Forgiveness provide us with practical ways for maintaining the loving relationships that God has always intended that we should have.
Let’s try. Let’s really try to improve the relationships we have with those around us.
Let’s look deep inside of ourselves to see what we need to address, to admit, to acknowledge and to alter.
Let’s examine our words and avoid the ones we use to make excuses for how we act.
Let’s accept our consequences and have the courage to ask for forgiveness.
Confession and forgiveness are cornerstones on which the Fruit of the Spirit reside. Let’s make certain we keep them strong and sturdy.
My brothers and sisters, as hard as this may feel, we can do it in the mighty and holy name of Jesus … Amen!