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Fisher of Men

Live Without Secrets

Live Without Secrets

“How thankful I am to be fully known by You! Everything about me is visible to You—including my most secret thoughts and feelings.”

– Jesus Listens, April 19th

I long for a church that lives without secrets.

The Beauty of Honesty

One of my favorite things about church is our new members’ meetings. All the new members pack in a room for a Saturday, and they share their testimonies. There are always lots of tissues, lots of hugs, and lots of honesty.

Whenever I see new members join, I think, This is the church as it should be! A bunch of people in a room, telling each other why they are messed up, and celebrating that God loves us anyway.

But most of church life is not like that. I see pastors fall from grace because of secrets they kept. I see people worry more about fitting in at church than finding grace at church.

This is why we should regularly practice confession to each other. Whether in new members’ meetings or in friend groups, when we tell the worst about ourselves, we experience the best of Jesus’s church.

The Gospel of Being Known

The core message of Jesus is that we are fully known and fully loved. This is what we learn when we come to know Jesus for the first time, but often, it’s the first thing we forget, too.

Somewhere along the way, we begin to think church is just like the rest of life, another place where we have to prove that we’re worth it. Whether it’s our jobs, our cars, our political opinions, or our clothes, the easiest thing to do is to fall back into a life of comparison. This is the constant pull of the human heart, to see if we can earn our justification, which is legalism.

One of the greatest things we can do to combat this human tendency towards legalism is to practice confession with others (James 5:16 NIV). This can happen in lots of ways. The new member class I mentioned is a wonderful way to do it, but most people won’t have that regularly. So let me recommend a habit: Have a short call with a close friend once a week to practice confession.

Here’s how it works.

Confession as Practice

My best friend and I have a call every Monday where we simply ask each other the same set of questions. It begins like this:

Caller: Why do we call?

Confessor: Because it is good to tell someone who loves us the things that burden us.

Caller: What has burdened you this week?

Confessor: *Confesses the big and small things, in brief but real detail*

Caller: I am with you, and Christ loves you unconditionally.

*Then switch roles and repeat.*

Usually, this call takes about five minutes. Sometimes we talk for longer. But what’s amazing to me is how just five minutes can change the course of my life every week.

Why? Because I often feel like it’s Jesus calling.

For some reason, when I pray my confessions silently in my head, it is hard for me to believe that Jesus really forgives them. Call it my lack of faith, but it’s true. However, when I confess to a friend, and tell them the truth of my life, I feel like it was Jesus calling, hearing me out, and telling me to let it go. And I do.

This is why we’re calling the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) Because we get to represent Christ to each other. Nowhere is this more real than in confession.

The Burden of Living with Secrets

Living with secrets is the hardest way to live (Psalms 32:3 NIV). Life is already like an uphill climb. Often, it’s like an uphill climb in a cold mountain fog where you have no idea where you’re going. But living with secrets is like adding a backpack full of large heavy stones. There is no part of life that isn’t made harder.

The problem is that secrets are easy to collect. We are sinners after all. We do things daily that we are embarrassed of, and we make mistakes all the time. On any given Tuesday, we collect some rocks. Some big, and some small.

But confessing to a friend is just one small practice to unload the backpack. And when we do that, we find that not only are we lighter, but now we have a friend to climb with.

Go Live Without Secrets!

Let me encourage you to start today. Go find a friend and ask them if they’d be willing to start this practice with you. If you need an excuse, forward them this article, and tell them you want to try it.

In the end, you’ll both find yourselves believing the gospel of Jesus more fully. In real, vulnerable friendships, we find the love of Jesus who knows us fully and loves us anyway. That’s worth practicing.

About The Author

Justin Whitmel Earley is a lawyer, author and speaker from Richmond, VA. Most of all, he is a husband to Lauren and a father to his four sons – Whit, Asher, Coulter, and Shep. But he also graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English Literature before spending four years in Shanghai, China, teaching and writing. Justin got his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and he now runs his own business law practice under the Earley Business Legal. ( His book, The Common Rule – Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, was published with InterVarsity Press in 2019. He frequently speaks at businesses, churches, and conferences on habits, technology, and mental health. ( His second book, Habits of the Household – Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms, addresses spiritual formation in ordinary family habits, and was published with Zondervan in 2021. ( His third book, Made for People – Why We Drift into Loneliness and How to Fight for a Life of Friendship, explores the arts and habits of friendship and is forthcoming from Zondervan in August of 2023. You can learn more about Justin at

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