by Dale Reeves
In every wedding ceremony I perform, I share with the new bride and groom that there are some words that will be absolutely crucial to the survival of their marriage. Their willingness to say these phrases may very well determine if their marriage will make it or not. And, if they choose not to say these words on a regular basis, I predict either their marriage won’t last, or they will just choose to live in an unhappy marriage. Here are the words:
I love you.
I forgive you.
I was wrong.
Yesterday in our “Six Words That Can Change Your Life” teaching series at Christ’s Church, Brad Wilson taught on the importance of saying “Sorry.” If you missed that message, you can catch it here.
In Any Language
Prior to COVID-19, I was fortunate to be able to travel to several countries. Each time I traveled, I did a little language prep ahead of my journey. Whether my destination was Haiti, Mexico, Italy, France, or Austria, I tried to learn a few key words ahead of time. Knowing that my attempt at speaking the native language was just that—an attempt, I’ve always been told that the nationals in that particular country appreciate someone who is willing to try to speak their language. Upon attempting to say something in their native tongue, several times I’ve been met with smiles and sometimes laughter based on what I might have actually been saying to them. My memory of trying to send home some Swiss army knives at a post office in Rome, Italy, stands out as one of my favorite attempts. Take my word for it: the phrase “I’m sorry” is a good one to know in other languages while traveling.
je suis désolé
es tut mir leid!
Being able to say “I’m sorry” is a very important phrase not only in English, but also in whatever language is spoken while someone is traveling abroad. Whether you’ve said something without thinking, bumped into someone, or made an unfortunate mistake, knowing how to say “I’m sorry” can be extremely useful and is the conscientious thing to do.
As a child, you may have played the board game “Sorry” that is based on Parcheesi, a game that originated in India. The object of the game was to get all of your pawns across the board into your safe zone and into your Home space before the other players could complete that task. If you landed on another player’s marker, or if you drew the “Sorry” card that everyone coveted, you could send another player’s pawn all the way back to his start position, regardless of how close to the finish line that player was—thus the chance to yell at your opponent in a less-than-sincere way, “SORRY!”
When we as adults fail to say “I’m sorry” to someone for something inappropriate we have said or done, we essentially can be “setting them back” in their relationship with us. The inability to say “I’m sorry” indicates arrogance and pride in our character because we may think we have done nothing wrong. And that lack of humility may be the very thing that causes serious roadblocks in our relationships with a spouse, a parent, a child, or a coworker.
A Sorry Song
Way back in 1960, Brenda Lee sang:
“I’m sorry, so sorry that I was such a fool.
I didn’t know love could be so cruel.
You tell me mistakes are part of being young.
But that don’t right the wrong that’s been done.”
More recently, Christian artist Toby Mac sang a lament to God, “I’m Sorry,” that hits us straight in the heart. Toby cries out to God,
“You told us to give, told us to love, but we chose to take.
You laid down Your life, put power aside, showed us the way and the Truth.
We roll into church, open the word, and forget that we’re called to include.
Now, it’s long overdue, but I can’t dilute what we seem to havе put on the shelf.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, so sorry.
We say that we’re one, but we’re broken up by anything that can divide.
Our color of skin, the clothes we’re in, that valley’s deep and wide.
We overlook the broken, the homeless, and discard the poor
While we celebrate the rich and beautiful with a wide-open door.
I’m sorry we’re nothing like You, You chose to bear a cross.
We choose to give You parts of us and rarely the parts that cost.
Now, it’s long overdue, but I can’t dilute what we seem to have put on the shelf.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, so sorry.
Wake us up, wake us up, wake us up, Lord.”
A Fresh Start
Is there someone you need to say “I’m Sorry” to today? Are there things you need to confess to your Father God this week? His Word tells us . . .
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word” (Isaiah 66:2, NIV).
To be willing to ask for forgiveness and say, “I’m sorry,” requires a spirit of humility and contrition. It means we are sorry for the wrongdoings we have done that are not part of what God desires for us, with a view toward amending our thoughts and actions. This arises from our love of God for his own perfection, grace, and mercy.
The apostle Peter spoke to a crowd in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, and he challenged them, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19, NIV). To repent is to say to God, “I’m sorry for what I have done wrong. I cannot do this life on my own. Help me to trust you more and lean into you.” And, when we do that, just like in the board game, Sorry, God’s Word promises we will experience times of refreshing—as we go back to home base and get a new start.