July 07, 2008

Kinda Sorry

Psalm 51

I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Psalm 51:3


The title for today's meditation comes from an article written by the contemporary Christian commentator Martin Marty. The article describes how the simple act of saying “I'm sorry” seems to have all but vanished today. Marty points out that whenever celebrities or politicians are caught in some kind of scandal, they tend to make statements to the media that hardly qualify as heartfelt acknowledgments of wrongdoing. To illustrate, he listed a few “confessions” recently made by some well-known people. For instance, after making some racially insensitive comments, one politician offered the following: “I am sorry that my words might have been interpreted in a way that causes stress to anyone.” Another example was from a popular athlete whose reputation was damaged by a gambling scandal; he said, “I'm just not built to act all sorry or sad or guilty. I'm sorry it happened … now let's move on.” Psalm 51 captures the heart of true repentance. When David was made aware of his sin, he offered no lame excuses or feeble apologies. As painful as it was, he admitted the truth. It's what we do whenever we say “I'm sorry” to God and mean it. True repentance is always uncomfortable. But here's the good news: if we are honest enough to face the truth about ourselves, we are well positioned to rediscover the joyful truth of God's mercy.

Lord, how easy it is for us to downplay the effects of our sins. Help us to be honest about who we are and what we do. Thank you for the gift of forgiveness. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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