Confession, prayer, and forgiving one another, and not even one mention of salt—at least in the citation work.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
— Psalm 19:12
Psalm 19 showed up quite recently as the semicontinuous psalm.
Verse 12 is cited four times in The Book of Concord. First, verse 12 is quoted in The Augsburg Confession, Article 11: Confession (AC 11.2) as scriptural evidence that no one should be expected to be able to list all of their sins. Verse 12 is quoted again a bit later in Article 25: Confession (AC 25.7) to make the same point. Verse 12 is also quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 11: Confession (AP 11.8) to make the same point with this great line: "we will neither remember nor understand most of our sins." Lastly, verse 12 is quoted in Smalcald Articles, Part 3, Article 7: The Keys (SA 3.7.1), to make the point that we have been given the authority to forgive even those sins that are unknown.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
— James 5:13
Verse 13 is cited in a footnote to The Large Catechism, Part 3: The Lord’s Prayer, Introduction (LC 3.4, n. 164) as one of the eleven places in the New Testament where Christians are told to pray. Luther was convinced that he needed to make the argument to people that they should pray and not leave it up to the priests and monks and saints or others who were somehow “holier” and thus more worthy of being heard by God in prayer. So before Luther begins to unpack the meanings of the petitions of the Lord’s Payer, he takes his time to present the idea from scripture that God wants to hear everyone’s prayers. This verse in James is a good reminder that we are to pray regardless of what our emotional state is.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
— James 5:16
Verse 16 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.109) as Melanchthon is unpacking why the enumeration of sins is impossible and unnecessary. He imagines an opponent citing the first part of the verse, which Melanchthon then reads in context as a reminder that this is about reciprocal confession, the healing of a broken relationship with each side confessing their sin and receiving forgiveness from those whom they have wronged.
Self-righteousness in any from undermines what God has done for all people in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We Christians are a hindrance to the proclamation of the gospel when we fail to acknowledge our own sin. When we who are marked with the cross of Christ act as if we are somehow better than other people, as if we had something to do with our salvation, as if we made God love us by being right, we lose our saltiness. Worse yet, as we perpetuate our self-righteousness instead of the gospel, we put a stumbling block in front of those who are young in faith because we’re training them in self-righteousness in stead of the gospel.
Let us confess our sins to each other. Let us confess our sins to those outside of our congregations. Let us confess our sins to those in other denominations and faiths. Let us confess our sins so that we might return to the good news of God in Christ and show the world what that good news look like—forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Of course, that does mean we have to admit we’re wrong…