I went to the doctor’s office this morning to pay a late bill for a recent appointment. The receptionist opened the window to greet me and I started off by saying, “I want to apologize for being late in paying this bill that is a few days over due.” She replied, “Thanks, but there is no need to apologize. But I appreciate your saying you are sorry.”
When was the last time you honestly said, “I’m sorry” to God, a family member or friend? What is holding you back?
I am the oldest of four siblings. I remember our parents modeling and expecting each of us to own up to our responsibilities, take care of our own chores, keep short accounts with each other, and apologize when we messed up. I recall an incident where my mom and dad were discussing something and he raised his voice towards her. He quickly apologized to her, then came in the other room and apologized to us kids for his action. He said he was sorry he raised his voice at mom, and would be careful not to do it again. That example has stuck with me for over 50 years.
I am sure each of us has something we have done that we are not proud of. We are all guilty of the same human frailties and tendencies to avoid being seen for who we really are. We tend to be reluctant to acknowledge and repent of our misdeeds because it means taking ownership for our actions. It means a humble admission of being imperfect, even though we allowed selfishness to influence our actions. We abhor such confessions, probably because it makes us feel ashamed, and we prefer to avoid those sorts of feelings.
Read 2 Corinthians 7:5-11.
The apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christ-followers in 1st century Corinth to call them to own up to where they had “missed the mark.” They strayed from the teachings of Jesus and Paul called them to accountability, that they would be “truly sorry” for how they veered off. Paul’s aim was that the Corinthians would be sorrowful for their actions, and that sorrow would lead them to repentance (i.e., a change in heart, v 10).
Paul was glad to learn from Titus of the repentance of many in the church who previously rebelled against his apostolic authority. This account reveals the way others can contribute to our growth and maturity when they admonish us for the behavior they observe in us. It is never easy to be the person who questions something we said or did. Yet God uses others to help us develop godly character…if we are wise to listen.
I remember my parents saying to me, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” when I did something wrong. When I really did feel ashamed and truly repented of my bad behavior, I did remember how liberating it felt to be able to climb into mom or dad’s lap for a hug. Being ashamed means being genuinely sorry for the wrong you have done, and through the shame being made clean as a result of confession and repentance.
Are you too proud or insensitive to feel ashamed when you do something wrong? What will you do about it? Live communally. Jesus calls us to speak the truth in love to one another. Be willing to own up to your failings. Seek forgiveness, and be sorry as you do.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz