Two-way Confession

William C. Brownson

READ : James 5:15-16

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed (v. 16)

To whom should we confess our sins? To God? Surely. To priests and pastors? Yes. And James points us to still another “confessor,” named “one another.”

We confess to God because forgiveness is God’s gift, through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We confess to spiritual leaders that they may help to assure us of God’s pardon. But what’s the value of confessing sins to “one another”?

Some are frightened at the thought of this, “What? Tell my Christian friends the secret evils that are my shame? What will they think of me? What if they tell others?” But James is speaking here of confessing within the circle of Christian believers, of friends whom we trust. And the very ones to whom we confess will also unburden their hearts to us.

All Christians acknowledge that they are sinners. But many of us are never specific with each other. Think of how our hearts could be knit together if we shared our brokenness with one another.

No one is required to do this. Each can choose what to share, to whom, and the setting in which to confess. But remember this: God’s Word assures us that such confession has wonderful healing power.


God, help us to trust those close to us enough to share the worst about ourselves. Through Jesus, Amen.