On Confessing the Sins of Others

imagesConfessing the sins of others is an addictive practice.

It feeds self-righteous certainty. It simplifies life’s complex demands. It elicits confirmation from those who share our views. It spares us the effort associated with thinking and reasoning carefully. Above all, it insulates us from the painful process of self-examination.

This is why Jesus urged us to consider the log in our own eye, before contemplating the speck in someone else’s eye. It is also why, as First Peter puts it, judgment begins in the household of God.

Both admonitions register the great grace that we have been given; the frailty, failing and resistance that lead us into ever deeper dependence upon God’s grace; and the spiritual peril that lies in confessing the sins of others.

God give us the spiritual rigor to examine our own lives first —

the humility to grapple with our own failings in thought, word, and deed –

the capacity for self-examination that is the key to freedom and an antidote to hypocrisy –

the charity of mind and heart toward others, born of lives in touch with own frailty –

and the creative, hopeful energy that rises from confidence in your grace –

for us and for one another.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an Episcopal priest), live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and five grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, Sophie, and Drew, with a sixth on the way.