Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scripture Study

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:16, NLT
Consider for a moment the last time you hurt your mate. An unkind word, impatient gesture, or a harsh tone from you did some damage. Yes, something in the last day or so will do just fine. Now, let's assume for a moment that you have not resolved that offense. What would be easier to do? 1) Go to your mate and say, "You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? Well, I'm sorry." Or 2) go to your mate and say, "You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? I was wrong, will you forgive me?" Granted, we may have to admit that we would find either statement hard to say. But if we want to promote a healthy relationship, does it make a difference how we "confess our sins to each other?"

Most people find it much easier to say, "I'm sorry," than to say, "I was wrong, will you forgive me?" Why is that the case? Are they interchangeable expressions, or do they approach an offended person with very different messages? Consider for a moment that the first is actually a non-confessional statement quite capable of causing further offense, while the second is an example of genuine confession.

"I'm sorry" states a feeling but gives the other person no opportunity to respond. It's not much more that a vague report of discomfort. It doesn't really take responsibility or accept the vulnerability of confession. It's not even clear: Am I sorry you got hurt or sorry that I hurt you? "I'm sorry" doesn't risk having the other person say, "I don't forgive you." That's why we say, "I'm sorry"--because we're really not.

"I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" is scary, because it lets down our defenses. It gives our mate a clear opportunity to retaliate. It forces us to reverse positions--we might get hurt. It allows the depth of the offense to become clear--perhaps our mate isn't ready to forgive. "I'm sorry" doesn't ask for forgiveness. But "Will you forgive me" recognizes that forgiveness isn't something we can take for granted.
*From Tyndale Parenting Devotion
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