Yup, Little Miss Active Listener went rogue again. Tigger-like, she bounced right over reflective, soft-spoken Joe with her over-eager interjections.
I could say the interrupting words were well intentioned, borne of desire to build relationship and connect. I could say that.
But I know better.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51:3
Jim and I were in the kitchen with our friends Sadie and Joe, enjoying some Sunday morning omelettes. Joe was summarizing a new book. I was Interrupting Chicken.
Hon! Stop interrupting, my husband broke after one of my break-ins. Let him talk!
I shut my mouth. Those words about how it’s the fool who answers before he listens (Proverbs 18:3) came to mind. Guilt- the good kind- moved in.
After an awkward moment of silence, Joe continued, still calm. I listened to him- and to my wounded ego- without interrupting either. In a few minutes. Joe left to help at early church.
But I didn’t say a thing. Any thing. And I didn’t do the right thing.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
But I knew the right thing to do. James 1:19 has been a quote-out-loud verse in this house for years. Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. And I know Proverbs 18:23 pretty well, too: Whoever covers his sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and forsakes them finds mercy.
Obedience required confession. And not in a vague Sorry-if-I-offended-you way. Because confession- like thanksgiving- demands particulars. Precision like, Forgive me, Joe because for repeatedly interrupting . Or, sorry I wasn’t a patient listener. Specific.
I knew what I had to do. Interrupting was a sin of commission. I was doing the wrong thing. But to go on without confessing, that would add to it a sin of commission. Whoever knows the right thing to do- confess to Joe- and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
There was conviction. I knew the right thing to do.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16
But my pride had kept me from confessing as a first response, before Joe left for church.
And silence when there’s sin to confess wastes away the bones (Psalm 32:3). So the ‘ole bones groaned for the next three hours at church. But when we all got home, I did the right thing.
Hey Joe, I’m sorry I kept interrupting you this morning.
I don’t know if I added Please forgive me, or not. But I know meant it. And what’s more. I know Joe gave it.
That wasn’t the first time I’ve been selfish and rash and had to confess to a friend and I’m pretty sure, it won’t be the last. Because our gracious God reveals convicts us, bit by bit. There are sins we don’t even know we commit. A year or a month ago, I might not have seen Interrupting Chicken as a sinner.
But I do now. And once we know the right thing to do, it’s on us to do it.
Ongoing and over and over again.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 1:28
In a message on James 4:17, Russell Moore says that confessing our sins is critical for every Christian.
Then he explains why it’s so important to make things right,
Because the Christian life is about the Gospel. Because you and I understand that we are sinners. Not that we were sinners. That we are sinners. And that we are constantly in need of grace and mercy.
So what does the Holy Spirit drive us to do? He drives us to an ongoing confession of sin….
Because this is how God is drawing you near to him by the confession of your sins…The point is, you ask for forgiveness…so that you can be freed and liberated from that…
The most miserable Christian in the world is not the who is aware of his sin and is confessing it. It is the one who does not have his sins being exposed and repented of so [he can] experience the blessings of fellowship and walking in Christ.
It sounds so awful and terrifying. So does a surgeon. A surgeon rips you up to take the tumor out. So does the Word. It’s healing.
Confess and repent is part and parcel of the Christian life until we see our Lord face to face, and are like him. And it’s not so morbid really, it’s actually, very lightening and relieving, and as Moore said, healing.
Confession, Interrupting Chicken can assure you, is good for the soul.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13
So what do you do with conviction? Do you stuff it inside and protect your pride? Or do you confess it and find fellowship?
During a swim at our friends pool this week’, my 11-year-old, called me over and asked in confidence and with conviction,
Hey Mom, do you think I should say sorry to Mrs. Mills? I accidentally dropped a cheese cracker in the water and she told us kids not to have food in the pool.
You can guess this mama’s answer.
You know the right thing to do, Son. Go do it.