Recently I read an article titled “A Better Way to Say Sorry” (www.cuppacocoa.com). I thought it was brilliant. It came down to the following little formula:
“I’m sorry for ..
This is wrong because …
In the future, I will ….
Will you forgive me?”
The idea was to move away from the insincerity of the forced apology and to encourage more reflection and responsibility by the person making the apology. Immediately my mind jumped to applying this simple procedure with my children in their day to day squabbles. After all, my desire is that they show true repentance when they have wronged another. As a parent, I want them to take responsibility when they hurt someone and see them mature in their relationships.
Later it occurred to me that my response to the article was
a little “log eyed” (Matthew 7:3-5) . I
gave no thought to my own sinfulness and need for repentance, but went straight
for the specks in my children’s eyes. I
gave no thought to how I apologise or seek forgiveness from others or how I
ought to model this sincere repentance to our children. In fact, I often find myself apologising for
the sake of restoring a relationship without taking much responsibility for the
wrong I have done in the first place. This
is not true repentance at all.
It also occurred to me that our Father in heaven also desires us to come to him in true repentance. In fact, this repentance is central to the gospel:
Luke 24:45 “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
As the Easter weekend progresses and we focus on God’s great act of salvation for us I realise that coming before him in repentance goes far deeper than a few formulaic lines (as helpful as they may be). It is very difficult to comprehend his saving work in us. In his book “An Infinite Journey”, Andrew Davis expresses it far better than I am able to:
“We cannot know the full measure of our salvation for a variety of reasons:
- We don’t perfectly understand how sinful we were, still are, and will continue to be, until we are glorified.
- We don’t perfectly understand how holy God is and how offensive were our sins against him, how hot and righteous was his wrath against us, and how great was our danger (eternity in hell).
- We don’t perfectly understand how great is our heavenly inheritance, how much joy and blessing awaits us when we are finished being saved, nor do we understand what kind of glory will be revealed to us (the amazing perfection of the New Heaven and New Earth) and in us (for we will shine like the sun).
- We don’t perfectly understand the price that was paid on our behalf, the infinite value of the blood of Christ and of the immense suffering he absorbed in propitiating the wrath of God….”
This Easter (or any other time) let us pause and consider the magnitude of our rebellion and rejection of God which took his Son to a horrific death on a cross in our place and allow the grief that comes with our guilt to bring us to a place of true repentance before Him.
1 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”