Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed…
The case before us supposes a Christian who is sick, and who has committed no great crime, no crying sin, but a fault towards his brother. He is the man whose case was mentioned in the preceding verses. His faults had brought him to his bed, his sickness had brought him to penitence; he desires to be forgiven and healed. He sends for the Church officials, who use first the physical agents of remedy, and then engage in prayer. Now, says the apostle, "Send for your brother, against whom you have committed a fault. Confess your fault to him; perhaps that will bring him to perceive that he has had faults towards you. "When you have prayed together, you for him and he for you, and have come to be loving friends again, then all may go right, and the peace of your mind will advance the recovery of your body, and so you may be healed." In this whole matter of confession it is important to guard against morbid feeling and mistaken action. Where another is concerned, and such a sin is committed that the acknowledgment to him or to the world would put him in no better position than he is now, why should there be any confession made? Confession to other than the offended party, or even to the injured party, may itself become injurious to a wide circle. The confession should not be made to a third party, but only to the party involved in the difficulty. That confession should always be made in a truly devout spirit; in a spirit consistent with acts of prayer. It must not be done perfunctorily, merely to get through a duty, but must come from the heart, just as prayer must come from the heart; and must leave the confessor in that state of mind which prepares him to go to the Heavenly Father and invoke all blessings upon the brother whom he has offended. And this points us to the ethical lesson on the other side, which is often overlooked. When my brother is convinced that he has committed a fault against me, and being sick and unable to visit me, sends for me and begins to make confession, I must not draw myself up haughtily and tell him I am glad he has come to his senses at length. I must listen very patiently and humbly t,, his confession, examining my own heart to see whether there might not have been something in my conduct to betray my brother into his fault, and whether, also, I may not have resented his fault as to be betrayed by indignation into a fault on my own part. I must listen with the greatest gladness, seeing that he has been brought by the Spirit of God to such a state; and I must earnestly desire to be in as proper a moral position toward him. If all this be done, then immediately after confession will follow forgiveness and prayer. He that had done the wrong and he that had received it will pray each for the other, and there will be real, unaffected love; and a state of love amongst all Christians is that which every man who loves our Lord Christ does most intensely long for.
(C. F. Deems, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.