May 13, 2008

Learning to Say "I'm Sorry"

James 5:13-20

Confess your sins to each other …
James 5:16


Some time ago an elderly woman said to me, “In all the years that we’ve been married, my husband has never once told me he was sorry.” She’s not alone. For many people the words “I’m sorry” are among the most difficult words to say. Some spouses have never once said these words to each other. Some parents never say these words to their children. And some children never tell their parents they are sorry for what they’ve done.

No matter how difficult it may seem to say these words, they are among the most important words in our lives. And once we say them, there’s a sense of freedom and relief. Instead of making us look weak, these words bring us closer to each other. To say “I’m sorry” does not cause us to lose others’ respect. In fact, the opposite is true. Learning to use these powerful words takes us a long way toward healing in our relationships.

Husbands and wives must learn to say “I’m sorry” to each other. Parents must be willing to tell their children they are sorry when they have failed in their parenting. Children must tell their parents when they have done wrong and ask for their forgiveness.

We fail each other in so many ways. If it is difficult for you to say “I’m sorry,” ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart and to teach you to learn to say it and ask for forgiveness.

Lord our God, help us to humble ourselves and to admit wrong when we have failed someone close to us. Give us the grace to say “I’m sorry.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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