For All Intensive Purposes

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People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8

Insight

My world got rocked today. Everything I know is wrong. Since you are wiser than the person wearing the dunce cap (ME), you were probably well aware that it's "for all intents and purposes" and not "for all intensive purposes." No wonder people would shake their heads at me anytime I uttered the latter. 

Finally, someone dared to stop me mid-conversation and graciously tell me I sound silly every time I use that saying. It made me wonder how many everyday phrases have I been saying all my life incorrectly?  I'm hoping that my repeated error didn't "wreck" havoc on their peace and comfort, and there was no "deep-seeded" anger directed at me. Let's pray that they allowed my mistake to "fall by the waste side" and that there is a "statue of limitations" on holding on to their frustration.

Funny how changing a single letter or two can alter the meaning of a word or phrase. Two words that look and sound almost identical can have drastically different meanings and implications. 

In the church world, we often mistake (and treat) concession for confession. The dictionary defines concession as something done or agreed to usually GRUDGINGLY in order to reach an agreement or improve a situation.  It entails the admitting of a point claimed in an argument or acknowledging defeat. 

Here is how it tends to play out in our faith journey and struggles: we notice a continued weakness, a wandering eye, an out of control temper, or jaded attitude. We witness the ramifications of our words and actions have on others or come face-to-face with the realization that we hoped to find fulfillment and purpose in lesser things. 

How do we tend to respond? 

We go to God, plead our case and treat it as a negotiation session by attempting to justify what took place. We try to payback or come to terms with God. If, and only if, this fails to do the trick, we concede. We create a list of things we've done wrong, look to God and mutter, "Okay..okay...you were right, and I was wrong. I promise it won't happen again. So, we're good, and I can go, right?"  We do this for a host of different reasons: to alleviate guilt and deal with our shame, because we feel obligated or as a way to get on with our lives and our agenda. 

Confession is not just rattling off the things we have done wrong and moving on. It entails a process of agreement AND acknowledgment. We profess our faith in a better yes when we engage in the act of confession. By doing so, we take steps towards aligning our hearts with His own. 

Concession produces guilt and while confession sharpens our vision.

Reflection

  • Regarding your struggles, where are you conceding to God rather than confessing?
  • How can you begin to align your heart with God's in the way you respond to this struggle?

Prayer

God, may I not attempt to keep anything hidden from You. When I conceal my struggles, my soul groans. I want to experience the full life You promise me. Remind me that we find freedom in confession. Help me embrace Your ways above my own. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

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