The Whole Truth
While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:3-5
I’ve been a pastor for over 28 years and by far the most honest confession I have heard from another human being wasn’t from a church member; it was from an alcoholic in recovery. His name was Jim and he was working through the Twelve Steps.
The Fourth Step in the recovery process is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves. That’s hard enough, but the Fifth Step is to admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of their wrongs. Having completed the Fourth Step, Jim called me out of the blue, a perfect stranger, and asked if he could do his Fifth Step with me.
I doubt I’ll ever forget that day. For nearly two hours Jim told me story after story of his failures and the relational wreckage of his life. His honesty and vulnerability were unlike anything I had ever heard. To this day I think Jim is one of the bravest men I’ve ever met. And while I never saw Jim again, that day through tears I saw a man become more whole because he told God and another human being the whole truth about himself.
When is the last time you told the whole truth about yourself to Jesus? Here’s the irony: so often we try to hide ourselves from Jesus because we’re afraid that Jesus will be disappointed with us or judge and condemn us. But Jesus came into this world for sinners like us. Jesus came to reveal the heart of God for sinners like Jim and you and me. It’s a heart that love and forgives and makes whole. That’s why Jesus once said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” And the truth is, none of us is well. We’re all sinners in need of forgiveness and wholeness, and that’s exactly what Jesus offers everyone who comes to him with “the whole truth” about themselves.
So let me ask you again: when is the last time you were completely honest and vulnerable before Jesus? It’s not that Jesus won’t love you if you don’t, or that you won’t be forgiven or won’t go to heaven. Those are the gifts of God’s grace. We don’t confess the truth about ourselves to get into heaven after we die; we confess the truth about ourselves so that we can experience more heaven, more life, right here and now.
Holding the truth within us is like spiritually holding our breath. And the longer we hold it the more feint we become, the less alive. But when we speak the whole truth, when we exhale it all to Jesus, then we can breathe deeply of the experience of God’s love, grace and forgiveness. We become whole, fully alive. Breathing out the truth; breathing in the life that Jesus offers. Over and over again.
So go ahead. Exhale the truth, the whole truth about yourself to Jesus. Do it now. And then inhale the amazing grace, love and forgiveness of Jesus for you.
Need a little encouragement today? Let the words of this song give you the courage to bring your whole truth to Jesus. Listen here.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN