- recalls Jesus’ example (“Jesus would have done…”): the standard of behavior comes from Jesus, not me, not you…
- recounts our failures & the harm we’ve done (“…but, instead, I did…”): it does so specifically, with no excuses (“it’s been a hard day”), no blame-shifting (“if you hadn’t…”)
- requests others’ forgiveness (“Will you forgive me?”): it then patiently waits, with no strings attached
- renews our faithfulness to Jesus (“I resolve to follow him in this area”): it gets help, counsel, and accountability.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
“By confessing actual sins [to another person] the old self dies a painful, humiliating death before the eyes of another Christian. Because this humiliation is so difficult, we keep thinking we can avoid confessing to one another. Our eyes are so blinded that they can no longer see the promise and the glory of such humiliation. It is none other than Jesus Christ who openly suffered the shameful death of a sinner in our place, who was not ashamed to be crucified for us as an evildoer.” – Life Together, section 96.