“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
— Mark 9:19-24
Jesus is never unsettled by our imperfections. Actually, he is most at ease and hopeful with those who are glaringly imperfect. He dined with hated tax collectors and “champion” sinners (Matthew 9:10). He offered grace to a woman caught in adultery (John 8:3 – 11). His own disciples — the men he chose — were sometimes dull, fickle and unbelieving (Matthew 15:16; Mark 9:19; 14:66 – 72). Even in his last hour, as he hung on the cross, Jesus welcomed a criminal into the kingdom (Luke 23:43).
It seems Jesus sees potential in our imperfection. When we are the most acutely aware of our weakness, we reach the end of our rope. Those who have run out of self-reliance are ready to rely on Jesus to give them new life.
But Jesus is frustrated by dishonesty. He reserved his sharpest words for the religious frauds who did not realize they were in desperate trouble. It is not the healthy who need a doctor (Matthew 9:12), he told them. So an important step toward living the way Jesus intends is being brutally honest about our radical imperfections. Bringing our sins into his light by giving them a specific name — lust, anger, gossip, gluttony, greed and so on — makes it possible for us to experience deep-soul healing from the Great Physician.
Confession frees Christians from self-delusion and frustration. Confession of sin — first to God, then to others allows faith to have its full effect.
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. (1 John 1:8 – 9)
It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses and we often find it easier to lean on our own strength. But we need not fear revealing our sins to God. He already knows them — and he is longing to draw us near.
Article drawn from content in the NIV Quest Study Bible.
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