‘They stood where they were . . . in confession and in worshipping the LORD their God.’ Nehemiah 9.3
By linking the words ‘confession’ and ‘worship’, Nehemiah brings the whole issue of confession into the joyful context of a relationship with God. Simply confessing our sins because we think we ought to can be a very dry business, often done with no real conviction or genuine sentiment. However, when confession is linked to worship it is quite different.
First, our focus is firmly placed on the wonder and compassion of the one to whom we are confessing. Just as there is someone who is the focus of our worship, so also there is one who is the focus of our confession – and we know that he loves us with an immeasurable compassion.
Secondly, it widens our confession. It is not just a matter of bringing to God a list of possible transgressions or saying sorry for specific things we might have done, but rather it is about bringing ourselves back to the recollection of all that God is, all he has done for us, and all he has called us to.
Finally, confession and worship puts the emphasis on tomorrow rather than today. In other words, our focus is not our guilt and how miserable we are, but rather the wonder of God and what the future can be like. You may like to spend a few minutes now worshipping God for who he is and for all he has done for you, and in this context of praise ask for his forgiveness and look to the future with thanksgiving.