Question:

Sir,

I have been looking through the previous answers on public sin. But I could not find anything that was quite like my question. This is the best web site I have found and I think it has helped me a ton.

I think my biggest problem is when at work, usually, I will talk about others. Sometimes it is about the people who are not doing their job, or someone who makes us angry and I say something I should not. Usually not directly to that person; it is usually talked among ourselves. We are in a position that we are called on and it gets busy and hectic a good bit. I went before the church a few months back because of this, but a few days later I said something again. I know it is not what a Christian should say. It is not curse words but just talking about them among ourselves. How should I handle idle words like this? Before the church?

I would appreciate prayers to help strengthen me.


Answer:

I know of no passage that requires a sinner to confess his sins before the congregation. It is one way in which confession can be accomplished, but I know of no passage which states it is the only way or the required way.

The purpose of confession is to face the fact that we sinned -- that we are not going to hide from that fact. Unacknowledged sin destroys us internally. "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." (Psalms 32:3-5). Confession is made to the ones we harmed by our sins. Since all sins are against God, the first and most important confession we need to make is to Him.

"This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell 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 Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven't sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (I John 1:5-10).

Often the one in sin realizes how badly his sin affected his relationship with God and so he desires the support of his fellow Christians in approaching God. You can see this with Simon.

"Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that whoever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart isn't right before God. Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have spoken happen to me"" (Acts 8:18-24).

This is why we read in James: "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). That is why we allow opportunities for people to come before the congregation. It is so others can pray on the behalf of the sinner that God will forgive them. That confession before others does not gain them forgiveness; it is the confession of the sinner of his wrongs to God that is required to gain forgiveness from God.

Your problem regarding grumbling about others at work is not solved by telling people who don't work with you that you have a problem. Complaining makes the Christian look bad in front of other people. "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain" (Philippians 2:14-16). Complaining to people who have no control over the situation doesn't solve the problem. Even complaining directly to a person who is involved rarely solves the problem because very likely matters are not within his control either.

To correct the problem, beyond admitting your fault to God, you need to purposely change how you talk about other people. "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection" (Colossians 3:12-14). Purposely find something to sincerely compliment the person you grumbled about and then tell the group you previously complained to what you like about that person.

When you have a complaint, stop first and think about what can be done to solve the problem. Then, instead of grumble to third-parties, go to the proper person and offer an idea for solving matter. If you have to complain about someone, do as Paul did in his letters: start out with compliments and what you are thankful for about them, only then move into what needs to be improved. Doing so shows that you are taking a fair and balance view of the situation.