My husband and I lead a marriage small group at our church. The topic of marriage, the importance of it to the Kingdom of God, and all the challenges that come with it, are close to our heart. I’ve written numerous times about our imperfect marriage. Our marriage is imperfect because we are imperfect. In fact, a statement of our imperfection might be an understatement. Let’s just say we’re daily thankful for God’s grace. And that God has taught us grace. We wanted to create an honest environment where we can say “amen” to how hard it is while also empowering couples with tools to strengthen their marriages.
We were covering the topic of temptation last week, one of the lessons in our co-written Keeping Satan Out of the Bedroom series. We break temptation down into three areas: vices, lust and finances. Can you tell this is everyone’s favorite session? You should see them elbowing each other and covering each other’s mouths so they can be the first person to tell the group about their vices and their particular lustful footholds.
Are you surprised?
You don’t believe me?
OK, yes, you’re right. There was a lot of blinking and intervals of awkward silence.
I don’t do well with awkward silences. I like to fill them with my perky, sometimes overly loud voice. And so I did just that.
Transparency can be powerful, right? After all, that’s what my ministry is all about: putting my faith where my mouth is.
So I rattled on about my own penchant for sin. My sin flavor, if you will. Everyone has one. This is the thing that, if we didn’t have Jesus on our side breathing life, grace and wisdom into us, might cause us to stumble. In the context of our marriage series, we focus on what could put a wedge between you and your spouse. It could be big, or it could be small. But it’s unique to you and how God uniquely created you. What’s not unique is the fact that everyone has something.
(Think hard if you need to find that thing – or that list of things.)
My biggest vice, I confessed, was my need to control everything around me. God works this out of me daily. Like yesterday, for example, when our new fridge was delivered. I researched for a fridge that would not show fingerprints. Fingerprints unhinge me (no, they don’t remind me of all my blessings, if you’re going to go all Pollyanna on me). I purchased one that is “fingerprint resistant.” Does that not imply that it resists fingerprints?! Alas, NO. It is already COVERED. IN. FINGERPRINTS. My mom had to talk me down from my fingerprint frustration while my kids just laughed at me in between bites of their breakfast this morning. See, God is working the control right out of me.
Back to small group last week when it came to admitting a temptation. Again, I scanned the room. Lots of barely-there smiles and darting eyes. We had just mentioned Matthew 5:28, which basically says if you look at the other sex lustfully, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. Ouch. Who wants to talk after that? Crickets. And crickets chattering over other crickets.
So I broke the silence again. I told everyone that I may or may not have a thing for worship pastors/leaders who can praise the Lord and dress stylishly. That’s a temptation I’ve had to work through in the past. It’s not a sexual lust as much as it’s a “wow he can sing AND dress well” kind of lust. In fact, if you think about it, many women stumble with lustful comparison more than sexual lust.
I also might have mentioned skinny jeans. And it’s not that I love skinny jeans. But I do appreciate good fashion, and slender jeans often go hand-in-hand with that. (To be clear: if they look painted on, they are too skinny. I just feel like I need to put that out there.) I thought, “surely there’s another gal who can appreciate a good looking, crooning worship pastor like me?” Turns out I’m the only one. And they let me know it.
This admission launched my quiet crowd into a funny frenzy. Laughter. (Lots of it.) Arms went up mocking how my worship might be mistaken for worshipping the singer. I’d managed to break the silence, but even the crickets were laughing at me now, and I was second-guessing my transparency.
James 5:15 says we need to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another so we can be healed. Healing in this verse means we are made whole, set free from our sin, saved from it. But what happens when we aren’t willing to be honest about our sin? What happens when we’re more comfortable leaving our sin in the dark place? When we leave it there, we give Satan the reigns to it. When we don’t give it over to Christ and His light, we let it fester in the darkness. And in that way we give Satan a foothold – in our life and in our marriages.
I’m not saying my small group is a group of sinners with dark secrets because they were quiet when asked about their vices and temptations. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time, the right environment, or maybe the Holy Spirit hadn’t convicted them in that moment. Or maybe they were just afraid to look as stupid as me! (Sigh.)
What I want to remind each of you, my friends, is that we, as the Church, have been given a responsibility to come together, to listen to one another, and to share our sins with each other. This is why we come together in intimate groups, no matter what your church calls them. We admit our sins not to be judged or mocked, but to be healed. To hold each other accountable. To support each other and love one another. There is healing in that, wholeness. And sometimes a whole lot of laughter.
For the record, after confessing my sinful taste for worship-leader temptation, I’m healed. Like triple healed. Even I’ll have a hard time looking at skinny jeans again without laughing at myself.
We have been given a responsibility to share our sins with each other Encourage a Friend
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