Sunday, December 8, 2013

Why is it so Hard to Say, "I'm Sorry"?

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, December 8, 2013:  Hosea 10:1-14:9

1 O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity;  2 take words with you, and return to the Lord.  Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.  3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ for in You the fatherless finds mercy.”  Hosea 14:1-3 (NKJV)

My wife, Martha, is a second grade teacher.  She tells me of an interesting characteristic she finds among her students.  In the disciplinary process, she requires them to apologize when they do wrong to each other.  She will tell them to say, "I'm sorry."  Instead, they usually duck their head and mumble, "Sorry."  Martha is insistent.  "Say, 'I'M sorry,'" she tells them.  Apologizing is difficult, so a mumbled "sorry" is all they are initially willing to give.  She has to make them say, "I'M sorry."   Almost always, the addition of "I'M" brings tears.

Why are words so important?  Why are they so hard?  Why is it so hard for a father to tell his son, "I love you."  Why is it so difficult to enumerate our sins?  Why is communication such a battlefield?

God tells Israel to bring words.  In returning to God, they are to speak -- to communicate.  This why confession is so important.  James tells us this.  "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (Jas. 5:16).

It's like a sacrifice.  Not a sacrifice for atonment, but a sacrifice for surrender.  Pride goes out the door as we verbally acknowledge our errors.  Hosea calls it "the sacrifice of our lips."

This is not wallowing in your own mess.  It is not self-hatred.  It is owning up to truth and determining to walk in integrity.

One more thing.  Martha adds one more step.  After saying, "I'm sorry" the child must ask, "Will you forgive me?"  To which the offended student should reply, "Yes."

The mirror image of confession is forgiveness.  Reconciliation.  Words are the path God uses to bring healing.  It's not just speaking the truth; it's speaking the truth IN LOVE.

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