“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
I Was Wrong, by Randall D. Kittle

When I was going to school, the most popular show on television was Happy Days. This sitcom set in the 50’s and 60’s had the hugely popular character Arthur Fonzarelli, affectionately known as the “Fonz.” He was popular because he was so “cool.” He wore sunglasses, a leather jacket, and rode a motorcycle. All he had to do was give you a wink and a quick “thumbs up” to let you know everything was good. Fonzie could fix almost anything mechanical and he always seemed to know the right thing to say.

Despite all of his popularity and ability, there was one thing he just couldn’t do … he could never admit that he was wrong. This makes sense because according to the Fonz, he never was wrong. That was until one episode when his bad advice almost had his friend Ralph running off to join the Marines. In this show, we see the Fonz practicing in a mirror trying to say the word “wrong.” He tried, but the word just wouldn’t come out. Later we see him talking to Ralph agonizing as he tries to say those words, “I was wrooooo … I was wro-wro-wro…” Then, in one last painful rush he finally declares, “I was not exactly right! … By that I mean I was NOT RIGHT.” That was as close as he could get.

Fonzie is not the only one who has a hard time getting those words out. I think I enjoyed that particular episode so much because the truth is I have the hardest time admitting I am wrong. I grew up in a family where it was better to be late or impolite than wrong. Kittles shouldn’t be wrong because … well wrong was just … wrong.

I’ve come to realize this family trait affects the whole human race. Almost everyone has difficulty admitting they were wrong. No one wants to feel like they are at fault … that they have failed. The problem underlying all this is simple — pride. It is pride that tells us we aren’t wrong, and pride that won’t admit to it even when it’s obvious to everyone else.

But the truth is that pride doesn’t protect us from our flaws and failures; it keeps them with us and adds to them. The only spot remover that can remove the stain of sin from us is repentance. Repentance takes the guilt and shame of what we have done and nails it to the cross.

But repentance starts with something called confession. That’s the hard part … the “I was wrong” part. The only way to remove our sins is to own up to them. Ironic isn’t it. As long as we deny our failures they remain with us. It is only once we have admitted to them that they can be removed from us.

Confession is not something God has us do because He needs it. God is not clutching tightly to His mercy forcing us to pry it from His fingers through confession. Neither is confession merely some mechanical means to shift the guilt of sin from us to God. When practiced properly, confession of sins will help transform us.

First, of course, it will liberate us from the guilt and shame of sin. God has promised,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). All the frustrating resistance we must overcome from our flesh to confess our sins is not equal to the depths of the relief, peace, and contentment we feel once we realize those sins have been forgiven by the Lord — no longer remembered as ours (see Hebrews 8:12).

Secondly, confession will help make us a little less likely to sin in the same way in the future. The process of confession makes that sin look and feel less attractive, making it more easily resisted.

The ironic truth is this — it is not the weak but the strong person who can admit they were wrong. It’s easy to live in denial or blame others, but that is a life of bondage. It takes strength of character to own up to our flaws and shortcomings and confess our sins, but the rewards are freedom and a closer walk with the Lord.

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