I know that some of you made a commitment last week to work on transparency in your life, and I know that for some of you, that was scary, very scary – so I want to congratulate ALL of you who began taking this risk this week – it took courage. And I want to encourage you with the fact that there are some great benefits to taking the risk to be transparent.
The first benefit that we receive when we are transparent with others is: we receive the support, the encouragement and the prayer that we need. Galatians 6:2 says: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This may come as a shock to some people but people cannot read our minds. I know that sometimes we expect our spouses or our children to read our minds- but they CAN’T. If we want to receive the support, the encouragement and the prayer we need, we need to let people know where we REALLY are; how we are REALLY doing. This will take a risk and yes, it will be scary but if we don’t we are sentencing ourselves to go through whatever we are going through alone – with no one to support us, encourage us and pray for us.
I know from personal experience the blessings of sharing my struggles with others and the curses of not sharing my struggles and having to carry the burden alone. I have seen both of these realities recently in my life. Around 9 or 10 months ago, I began to feel very stressed out about life. There were things that were going on in my extended family and there were other things that were causing this as well. Eventually, because I wasn’t sleeping and I was feeling very crummy physically I went to the doctor and that was when I was diagnosed with very high blood pressure.
Now, instead of sharing this “burden” with my church family, I chose to not share it and hide it until I couldn’t hide it anymore and I had to go on medical leave to deal with my health issues. I look back now, and I think to myself: “Why did I choose to go through that alone? Why didn’t I share that burden with others?” In all reality, it was foolish on my part; it is foolish on your part if you do the same thing. As I said earlier, we are sentencing ourselves to carry our burdens alone when we do this. And when I finally did share what was going on in my life, I ENJOYED the blessings of encouragement, support and prayers and you will too as you take that risk and share your struggles with others.
The second benefit that we can receive when we are transparent with others: it helps take the power out of struggles and temptations. Let me explain it like this. When we are struggling with a “secret” sin (this can be a lot of things from a struggle with pornography to a struggle with self-control or anger) – the Evil One has us exactly where he wants us because we feel defeated and hopeless and very alone. But when we take the risk and share that “secret” sin with someone else, the power that sin had over us now begins to diminish because it is now out in the open, so to speak. When we share our struggles with others – it gives us new strength to continue on in the battle. It also gives us accountability so that we can’t just “hide” it anymore. And most importantly, it helps us to have the victory that Jesus wants to give us.
I remember when I was struggling to deal with my alcohol “addiction” as a teenager that as long as it was a secret – it had incredible POWER over me. Once it came out in the open, that power began to diminish. Did the struggle go away the moment I opened up and confessed it to someone else? No, but I now had the support and the accountability I needed to have the victory. And I did have the victory and that is a BIG reason why I am doing what I am doing today.
The New Testament writer James talks about sharing our sins with one another in James chapter 5. Verse 16 says: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I think the healing that is being talked about here is more than physical – I think it includes spiritual healing as well. Sharing our sin and temptation struggles with someone else does not take our responsibility away to deal with the issue but as I have already said, it helps take the power away. And as we begin to experience victory, spiritual healing takes place. We don’t have to go through our sin struggles alone. I know that this is not something that you are going to share with just anyone BUT we need to have a few people in our life that we can share our sin struggles with.
The final benefit of transparency that we can receive is: we will begin to experience healthy relationships. Transparency leads to healthier relationships. Proverbs 24:26 says: “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” It is a HUGE blessing having healthier relationships. I am again speaking from experience here. Last week, I shared briefly about how Lauren and I have began to grow in our transparency with one another. I shared how we thought that we had a GOOD marriage but in reality it wasn’t a GREAT marriage. Since, we have began this journey of being more transparent in our relationship, I can honestly say that our marriage is turning into a GREAT marriage and you can enjoy this benefit as you grow in transparency as well. Of course, this benefit of healthy relationships is not just limited to married couples – it applies to ALL of our relationships.
I must confess that when we began this series two months ago, that I did not know the effect that it was going to have on me. This series was born out of my experiences over the last 6 months or so and I have been extremely blessed and challenged as I have prepared and written these messages each week because these are the issues that God is teaching me right now. My prayer and desire is that you too have been extremely blessed and challenged through this series.
So I as I conclude this series, I want to challenge you with the same question that I asked when I started this series two months ago: “Got life?” Can you answer “Yes” to that? And if you can’t, why not? Jesus said He came, and His purpose to coming to this earth and dying for our sins was, for us to have a fulfilled, rich, satisfying, better than we ever dreamed of, abundant life. Experience and live that life!