I remember hearing a story about four high school students who have decided to cut classes to watch a movie. The following day, the teacher asked them why they were not in class the day before. Before going to school, the four of them agreed to lie and say that the bus that they were riding on had a flat tire and so they were not able to come to class. They told the teacher exactly what they have agreed on to say. The teacher somewhat believed what they said but then he told them that they had a quiz yesterday and missed it. The teacher asked them, “Would you be willing to have a make-up quiz today?” The four students looked at each other. The teacher said, “Don’t worry, I will ask you only one thing.” The four students agreed. So they took a sheet of paper and their pens waiting for the teacher to ask the question. “Here is my question… Which of the four wheels of the bus was flat?”
This is somewhat true about many of us. In order to look good in the eyes of other people, we lie and mask the truth so that they will only see good even if it isn’t true. When we come together as a small group, we also have a tendency to mask our feelings, our situations, our weaknesses and our faults. We want to look good in front of others thinking that they will accept us more if we only showed them our good side. We want to make the small group meeting as “joyful” or “happy” as possible, we are afraid or ashamed to tell others that we are actually going through some pain or struggling with sin or weakness.
Here is what John said in 1 John 1:8-10
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
We can learn 3 things from this:
1. Everyone struggles with something- there is no point to hide it.
Since all of us sin, we struggle with its consequences. Sometimes, we suffer because of our own sins, sometimes because of others. We all have to be ready to admit it and be honest about them. In a small group where we do life together- humbly opening up our lives to one another and courteously listening to what others have to say, honesty becomes an important foundation in the health of a group. If no one is honest about his or her struggles, then it would be impossible to really help each other grow.
2. Confession helps us in our relationship with God and others
God has promised that if we confess- honestly admit our failings before Him, He will be faithful and just to forgive. That in itself is the biggest blessing in being honest. It restores our broken relationship with God. But there is also an added benefit- when we confess our sins to one another one can experience healing and restoration in us and our relationships with others. James 5:15-16 says: “And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.”
3. Honesty is a proof that we are living in the Lord.
Honestly confessing our sins, failings and asking God to cleanse us from our unrighteousness is a sign that we are living according to His light. 1 John 1: says: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from allsin.”
When we gather as a small group, nobody should expect that everybody’s life is like a bed of roses or that everything is sailing smoothly. Quite the opposite, we should expect everyone to bring in their struggles and weaknesses so that we could help one another grow in the light of God.