The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/16

Posted on | June 16, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/16

Scripture reading: Luke 15:11–32

I’m Sorry for the Way
I Said I’m Sorry

Then Pharaoh said to Moses, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong” . . . But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart. (Exodus 9:27, 34)

Confessing sin is harder than you think! To get it right requires wisdom, timing, courage and, most of all, humility. Many who try to ask for forgiveness sometimes make a bad situation even worse. Take Pete Rose’s apology as a case in point. In 2004, after fourteen years of loudly denying that he had ever bet on baseball, the baseball legend finally spoke up and apologized for his behavior (I think).

I’m sure that I’m supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I’ve accepted that I’ve done something wrong. But you see, I’m just not built that way. Sure, there’s probably some real emotion buried somewhere deep inside. And maybe I’d be a better person if I let that side of my personality come out. But it just doesn’t surface too often. So let’s leave it like this: I’m sorry it happened, and I’m sorry for all the people, fans and family that it hurt. Let’s move on.

Huh? Unfortunately, Pete Rose is not the only one who seems clueless as to how to make things right. Remember Richard Nixon’s “confession” concerning the Watergate break-in? “Wrongs were committed.” Or what about Bill Clinton’s explanation of his relationship with a White House intern? “It depends what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Then there is Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, O. J. Simpson . . . Does anyone know how to say “I’m sorry?” Does anyone know how to make things right?

For a confession to be effective it needs at least four ingredients:

1. Be brief. If we can’t state the matter in one or two sentences it probably means we are not ready to confess. Lengthy explanations are usually justifications and rationalizations, not confessions.

2. Be specific. Name the sin. Don’t be vague or generic.

3. Take responsibility. Avoid disclaimers such as “if” or “but.” Don’t rationalize, justify or blame. Don’t play the victim. Simply say, “I want to take full responsibility for what I did. Please know that it won’t happen again.”

4. Humbly ask for forgiveness. If steps 1, 2, and 3 are done well, then humbly ask the offended party, “Can you forgive me? Can our relationship be mended?”

Perhaps the best example of someone who got it right is the Prodigal Son. In three short sentences he was able to name his sin and find authentic forgiveness and restoration. Let his example be a model for you.

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. (Luke 15:18–19)

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
—Benjamin Franklin

point to ponder • Vague confessions result in vague forgiveness.

prayer focus • Divine help regarding any apology you need to make.


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