Proverbs 28:13 says: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Let’s start broad and then zoom back in on this proverb. How would you define wisdom? There are many good definitions and many aspects of wisdom. One aspect is this: living in light of reality; that is, in light of ultimate reality based on who God is and what he has done. Let's keep that in mind as we look at Proverbs 28:13 – wisdom is living in light of reality.
There are two divergent paths in this proverb, and we see them contrasting in pairs. The first pair is how we respond to sin: on the one hand you can conceal your transgressions and on the other you can confess and forsake them – these are the only responses to our sin. The second pair shows the two outcomes based on those responses: we will either “not prosper," or we will “obtain mercy” – these are the only two outcomes based on how we respond to our sin.
When we consider our own sins, we are always faced with these two questions: “how will we respond?” and “what will be the outcome?” And it’s not a matter of if, but of when we will have to deal with sin as we trudge forward in our fallen world. It’s not easy to face the consequences of sin; whether they are what some might call “respectable” sins or the kind of sins we are hearing a lot about in the news lately.
Let’s think about that for a moment – it’s as if the news has been a heart–breaking reality TV show dramatization of this proverb. How many times in last few months have we seen famous, powerful, wealthy men find that the sins they were concealing became their ruin? They thought they could hide them – sweep them under the rug. But time and again the story is the same and there is only one outcome on that path: those who conceal their transgressions will not prosper. Their sins have found them out, and so will ours should we choose to hide. Which brings home the question for us: how will we respond when we sin? The way we answer this question – which is seen in how we actually respond to our sin – has everything to do with our reality.
Remember our definition of wisdom: it’s living in light of reality, the reality of who God is and what he has done. So when we are faced with our sin, the most important thing is our reality. Personally I often feel that what’s most real – what functions as my reality – is reputation and what people of think of me. I’m not sure what it might be for you, but we’re all tempted toward counterfeit realities, aren’t we? We hear the lie that if we just sweep that sin under the rug, then we won’t have to face the shame of it when we confess to our spouse or our life group. We hear the lie that because a sin may be private, possibly infrequent, that there’s no need to confess it.
But these are simply an attempt to build on a false reality and conceal our transgressions to protect ourselves. If we would be wise, we must know what is most real in the moment we’re confronted with our sin. Do you know what it is? What our reality as Christians is? It’s God’s mercy – and the reality of God’s mercy not only allows us to confess our sins, it actually motivates us to do so. We need to see this! We should be motivated to confess our sins because there is more mercy in Jesus than there is sin in us. So we can be assured that He will always meet us with mercy when we confess our sins.
True prosperity as seen in Proverbs 28:13 is not the man or woman with the greatest achievements, the most wealth, or the best reputation. True prosperity is obtaining mercy. We can hide and attempt to protect ourselves and our sins, but know that you will not prosper. Instead, the greater reality of God’s mercy shows us that if we would be wise, if we would prosper, we must humble ourselves by confessing and forsaking our sins. So let’s live right now in the reality of God’s mercy and confess our sins together.
Prayer of Confession
Father, our sins, they are many, but your mercy is more. Would you draw us now outside of ourselves through your Son Jesus – the incarnate expression of your mercy to sinners who would otherwise choose to run and hide to our own ruin. Would you expose our false realities and shallow faith in counterfeit saviors so that we might come before you openly and honestly, confessing our sins, that we might obtain mercy. Show us Jesus, our Great High Priest, our Savior, who is perfectly suited for our every imperfection and need. We confess that we have loved sin and cherished idols. We have concealed our transgressions, and we know that if we hide our sins and cherish them instead of your mercy, we multiply our own evil and even forfeit your ear in prayer. So would you meet us in your mercy now as we confess our individual sins to you in silence.