By Rick Warren at: http://www.pastorrick.org, December 15, 2017.
God allows a crisis to get our attention, and then he uses the crisis to develop our character. One thing that signals we’re changing for the better is when we confess that we’re the problem. We stop blaming other people and admit, “I am the problem with my life.” Until we understand this, there can be no major change in our lives. This is the breakthrough God knows we need.
In Genesis 32, God asks Jacob, “What is your name?” This is a very strange request, because God obviously already knew Jacob’s name. In ancient cultures, you were always named for your character — what you really were. Your name might be Tall or Short, or your name might be Brave or Lazy. Your given name was your label. It wasn’t just something that sounded nice. It represented your character.
That was a problem for Jacob, because “Jacob” means “deceiver, manipulator, liar.” And Jacob lived up to his name! When Jacob says, “My name is Jacob,” it is an act of confession. He’s admitting, “I am a manipulator.”
Whenever I read this verse, I wonder what it would be like to be named for your greatest character fault: “Hi, I’m Greedy.” “Hi, I’m Gossip.” What would be your name? Bitter? Angry? Uncontrollable Temper? Lustful? Afraid?
Here’s what we need to understand: We will never be able to change until we openly and honestly and authentically admit our sin, our weakness, our faults, our frailty, and our character defects and confess this to ourselves, to God, and to other people.
One of the most humbling things in the world is to go, “This is who I am. I am a __________.” You fill in the blank. “I am a worrier … I am a domineering person … I am a person who runs from conflict … I am an addict.” Just admit it. Stop making excuses. Stop rationalizing. Stop justifying. Stop blaming other people. You’ve got to come clean about what everybody else sees but you won’t admit.
God will not be surprised when you come to God and say, “God, I want to own up to the weaknesses and the wrong in my life. This is who I really am.” God already knows what you are, but he needs you to confess so the work of change can begin. God’s forgiveness and grace is bigger than anything wrong you’ve ever done or will do.
Genesis 32:27b — “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
I John 1:8-9 — If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Psalm 32:3-6a — When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight…
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.