Last week it seemed that every time I turned on the news, I heard of someone saying, “Sorry”. It began with the Harrisburg, PA newspaper, The Patriot-News, printing a retraction of their November, 1863 editorial on the President’s comments at Gettysburg, which they called ‘silly remarks’ and saying they regretted their error in publishing the piece. The next day our current President apologized to the American people for His handling of the Affordable Care Act implementation and the government’s healthcare website. Then, throughout the week, I heard reports of the mayor of Toronto apologizing for numerous indiscretions. I am sure that I have forgotten other occurrences of apologies this week, and for that I’m sorry.
When was the last time you apologized for your behavior? When was the last time you said that you were sorry? If you are like me, that sort of thing doesn’t come naturally. What comes naturally for me is denial (denying that I could be wrong, that I was wrong, or that I’d be called out for my wrongdoing). What comes naturally for me is a soft-spoken admission of the facts (“mistakes were made”, “I guess I could have handled that differently”, or “if I had known…”). Sometimes, and less frequently than I should, what comes from me, albeit unnaturally, are those six painful words – “I am sorry; I was wrong.”
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16 (NIV)
According to this passage of Scripture, admitting our wrong-doing brings healing. The conscience of a media outlet in Pennsylvania has been cleared. The fears of untold under-insured Americans have been calmed, for now. The largest city is Canada is standing on a surer footing – okay, two out of three. The same can be true for us. Apology can restore relationship and rebuild trust. Apology can repair integrity and repay offense. Apology can relieve those who speak it and those who hear it. As the old Scottish proverb tells us, “open confession is good for the soul.”
Nowhere is this more important than in our relating to our Creator. We can all readily admit that we have done something wrong – even if it is just one thing. That one thing warrants both death and separation from God. There is no alternative – no logical loopholes, viable blame or feigned ignorance – and there is no acceptable excuse. What there is, however, is forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” All we need to say are those six healing words: “I am sorry; I was wrong.”
Next Thursday, as I gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am going to offer up an unusual prayer of gratitude: Lord, Thank you that I can say I am sorry for the things that separate me from you and your creation; thank you that when I say that I am sorry you will forgive me and cleanse me; Help me to say that I am sorry and I was wrong and help me to say it more often than I do. In Christ’s name; Amen.
And if this post has in some way offended or hurt you, allow me to say, “I am sorry.”