As the prodigal walks home, he prepares his speech. This is the confessor’s checklist.

·      I have sinned against God
·      I have sinned against people
·      I am not worthy to be God’s child
·      Please accept me at the lowest level of acceptance

Anyone with a tender conscience can identify with the humiliating feelings and conclusions the son came to. First, he acknowledges that he has sinned against God. All sin is first an act of offence against the One who created us.

But, it’s not enough to excuse myself before God. I have also sinned against people. There is no hint of blame in the confession. The young man accepted that it was his actions that brought him to this dead end.

We must confess that we have sinned by our own fault, our own most grievous fault. Our sins cannot be called errors in judgment, nor is there any room to blame them on upbringing or family or mean neighbors. This is a Reality Therapy of the best sort since we are so prone to blame our sins on everybody and everything instead of taking personal responsibility for them. [i]

Before God and the people I sin against, I have forfeited my worth as a child of God. I am not worthy of belonging to God’s family. I am hopelessly wrecked and will always fail. I do not understand why God would give me a chance, but I’m desperate and I’ll take his help if He is willing.

The boy recognized that his father was a good man who was kind and caring toward even the lowest servant in the house. By comparing himself to the lowest, he is hoping that the father will take pity and accept him at a less intimate level than he had as a son.

Our self-speech around sinfulness and repentance often assumes that intimacy with God is no longer possible if we come to him. We will take our punishment and quietly sit in the background.

[i] Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline, Perfectbound, p.148