There’s an art to apologizing.
We’re still learning that art here at my house.
There’s this one key ingredient I’m looking for: Honesty. Genuine repentance. True sorrow.
I tell my kids, “You have to mean it.”
The battles start young and they surely are battles. It seems so simple. I tell the raging toddler, “Say ‘sorry'”
There is screaming and stubborn refusal. Jaw tightens. Fists clench.
The truth is, it isn’t simple. Even a two-year-old knows that it’s never easy to confess, “I was wrong.”
Never easy to fess up, own up, and step up to your own personal responsibility and admit weakness or error.
It gets the best of us.
Sure, as the kids age, they learn the basics. No more time outs and threats of punishment and discipline for a lack of apology.
They technically have learned to apologize.
But they’ve also learned how to twist that apology into a sharp-edged weapon.
It’s sneaky, but I’m on to their tactics.
“I’m sorry that you weren’t looking where you were going and tripped on me.”
“I’m sorry that you’re crying drove me so crazy I had to be mean to you.”
“I”m sorry that you never leave me alone when I tell you to.”
“I’m sorry that you always get what you want and that makes me so angry.”
I’m sorry……that this is all really your fault. You made me do it. You, you, you.
It breaks this momma’s heart.
Surely it must break God’s heart, too, not just to hear my kids apologize without really apologizing, but to hear me entangle myself in my own bit of guilt-shirking. He hears how I can twist myself up in knots to justify my own sin.
We can make excuses. We can point fingers at others. We can blame circumstances. We can drown out the Holy Spirit with the noise of our own protests.
But here’s what Paul said:
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death
Godly sorrow. That’s what we should have.
Sin breaks the heart of God and it should be breaking our own heart, as well.
Truth is, as a mom, I pray that guilt and godly sorrow eats away at the heart of my kids so that they can’t stand it anymore; they just have to burst out a confession.
I want them to be able to say, “This is what I did wrong….”
I want them to know the freedom of true, genuine, honest, heart-felt repentance like David did:
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:3-5 NASB).
It sounds cruel, perhaps, but if my kids are clinging to sin, I hope it groans within them all day and night and they feel feverish with guilt and heavy-laden with conviction.
May it be so for me, too.
I’ve been thinking about Peter lately.
Other disciples mourned Jesus’s death. It’s true.
But Peter grieved all the more, losing His Savior while coming face-to-face with his own sin of betrayal that nailed Christ to that cross.
The Gospels tell us all about it. They tell how Peter stood at the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest. They tell all about the three people who identified him as a Jesus-follower and how he blustered out a denial. They describe the crowing of the rooster and Peter’s desperate tears of deep, deep sorrow for his sin.
How did the Gospel writers know?
How did Luke know? How did John know all these details so he could write them all down?
How did anyone other than Peter and Jesus know that Peter had totally blown it?
Peter must have told them. Not just a general confession either. “I sinned.” He told the whole ugly truth.
He didn’t keep it to himself. He didn’t cover it over and hide it away. He didn’t pretend it didn’t happen or make excuses for himself.
Peter didn’t compare himself to the others who had run away that night and figure, “Hey, maybe I’m not so bad after all.”
He humbled himself enough to say, “I’m sorry. This is what I did wrong.”
And that moment of sincere, honest, lay-it-all-out-there confession allowed Jesus to make a new Peter, a leader-of-the-church, humble, teachable Peter.
We bring the mess to Him; He brings the mercy.
And He makes us new.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King