James 5 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Yumi Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

James 5:16-20
Why may it be the case that confession brings healing?
Confession brings healing because in order to be healed of our sin, we need to first acknowledge that there is sin and admit the reality that there is something wrong.  Its only when we acknowledge that we have sinned in concrete ways, when we admit and confess the truth of who we are, that we can then receive forgiveness and healing.  Then, once that sin is confessed, we can be forgiven and our broken relationship with God restored.  If a husband commits adultery against his wife, even if the wife is fully willing to forgive her husband and mend their broken relationship, if the husband is not willing to admit his affair and his wrong and deeply apologize, that relationship can never be restored.  This is the same with our sin – sin breaks our relationship with God, it mars our hearts and souls and lives and it reaches out and hurts the people around us much like the Bean Bag videos illustrated at our worship services.  Only when that sin is owned and confessed before God, only when we get on our knees in confession, acknowledging our wrong and asking for forgiveness, can God then forgive us of our sins and heal us of our wrongdoing and all that’s marred in our hearts.

I remember an illustration Kelly gave during SK1 – To try to ignore sins that are piling up and to just mask it by doing the right things and acting like nothing is wrong is like having garbage pile up in your room, but not taking it out.  Instead, you might try to hide the garbage in the closet, shove it under your bed and desk, and cover over it.  At first, people might not notice, but after awhile, the garbage rots and the stink becomes unbearable.  This is how unconfessed sin is in our lives – when we do not confess and we hide our sins, pretending to be okay, we might look okay on the outside for awhile, but eventually the stink and rotting of our sin will start to be noticed and cannot be overlooked.  The only solution is to take out the garbage – that is to confess our sins.  When we confess, it gives us a way out of our sin – to be forgiven and healed of how we have wronged God, to experience healing from our guilt, to be freed of our guilt, and to be able to start over.

How have I experienced healing through the prayers of “righteous” people, as I confessed my sins to them, in the past? I have experienced healing through the prayers of “righteous” people, as I confessed my sins to them, in the past in numerous ways.  As a freshmen, I remember trying really hard to impress my peers and leaders by pretending to be good, by doing all the right acts of going to DT’s, sharing with a lot of jargon, never missing a prayer meeting, and I grew in self-righteousness and a sense of insecurity and constant desire for approval plagued me.  I tried to keep my sins to myself and always tried to keep up an image as a good Christian, but was always plagued with guilt, shame, insecurity and also a lot of defensiveness and sensitivity to every look and tone of voice.  However, as my sophomore and junior years progressed, I began to confess to my leader and my small group the different sins and struggles in my heart as God’s word convicted me of my wretchedness and the need for honest confession – I began to be brutally honest about my want of human approval, my constant image maintenance, the degree of my insecurity, and also the reality of struggles I had with shallowness, desire for comfort, and sheer laziness.  As I confessed my sins through prayer meetings, small group times, and received much guidance and prayers from my leaders and peers, I experienced forgiveness, being known, repentance and healing from these different idols in my heart, and also experienced restored fellowship with God and with my small group.  I became freer, started to understand what it meant that I was fully known yet fully loved, and grew more and more secure in my identity as just a forgiven sinner.

Growing older, the reality that healing comes through the prayers of righteous people has become even more real.  There were numerous times when through painful times of confessing my sins, I experienced healing through my leader’s guidance and prayers.  One particularly painful time was just this last year, when I was going through a dark time and fell into a repeating pattern of sin and pride.  I confessed the extent of my pride and different idols in my heart to my leaders, and they guided me through a period of repentance.  Through confession, I was able to see my sins and the extent of my pride in a much deeper way, and through my leader’s prayers and their struggling with me, I was brought to a deeper understanding of the Gospel and process of repentance and healing.  

Why does James say that “Elijah was a man just like us?”
James says that Elijah was a man just like us because he was highlighting the fact that Elijah was not of different stock, that he was not some super-spiritual, super human prophet, but rather a man just like one of us.  Yet, when Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain, it didn’t rain for three and a half years, and when he prayed again, the heavens gave rain and the earth produced fruit.  James is highlighting the fact that Elijah’s prayers were powerful not because he was made of different material than us, but because he prayed in faith (v. 15).  Thus, James is saying that we an also pray for each other to be healed, to pray in faith, and that prayer will be powerful and effective. 

How should I respond to the needs of those who are sick, who have sinned, and those who have wandered from the truth? Who are these people in my life? I should respond to the needs of those who are sick, who have sinned, and those who have wandered from the truth with desperate intercession and prayer, with faith in God rather than despair or cynicism.  Often, when people sin or wander from the truth, my first response is despair and then cynicism, feeling discouraged and feeling hopeless – but God’s given us this tool of prayer in faith which is powerful and effective.  When I just give into my emotions and cynicism, I am essentially saying that God is powerless.  Rather, I really need to pray and trust in God, and like a child looking to his/her parents, I just need to look to God and intercede on their behalf.

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