To be read: February 2, June 2, October 3
The fifth step of humility is that a man does not hide from his Abbot any evil thoughts which rise in his heart or any evils committed by him in secret, but humbly confesses them. 45Concerning this, the Scripture exhorts us, saying: “Reveal your way to the Lord and trust in Him”(Ps 36:5). 46And it says further: “Confess to the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endures forever”(Ps 105:1; Ps 117:1). 47And the Prophet also says: “I have acknowledged my sin to You and my faults I have not concealed. 48I said: I will confess my faults to the Lord; then You have forgiven the wickedness of my heart”(Ps 31:5).
Step five builds on to this ladder of humility by emphasizing our need to cleanse our heart and keep it right before God. It is very important for us to keep short accounts with God. Allowing hurts, evil thoughts, and impure motives to fester, gives them opportunity to become rooted in our spirit. Yes, we can confess our sins directly to God, and we should do that as part of our daily devotions. But by following Benedict’s prescription to “not hide from his Abbot any evil thoughts which rise in his heart or any evils committed by him in secret…”, then we allow our confessor or spiritual director to objectively examine our life and observe what may be patterns of behavior which negatively affect our spiritual health. He may see issues that we cannot discern in our subjective examination, things like generational curses, ingrained habits and behaviors, or false teachings which have taken root in our minds and spirits. We need to make confession regularly, keep short accounts with God, so that these problems may be dealt with quickly and not become the genesis of repeated sins.
Let me give you a Biblical example of someone who kept short accounts. King David is described by Paul in Acts 13:22 as a man after God’s own heart. How can this be? David was an adulterer. He commanded the murder of the husband of his illicit lover. He rebelled against God in commanding the census. Yet, when confronted, David in each instance would quickly repent. Nathan confronted him about his dalliance with Bathsheba, and when David commanded Joab to have her husband Uriah killed, he says to the prophet, “‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die’” (2 Sam. 12:13). And when he took the census of the people, rather than trusting the Lord’s provision, “David’s heart smote him after he had numbered the people” (2 Sam. 24:10). A saint after God’s own heart is not one who is sinless, rather one who keeps short accounts seeking intimacy and penitence in his or her relationship with God. “His mercy endures forever.”