Apologizing Without “Buts”

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Ps. 51:1–2

Loving Father, few things are as attractive as genuine humility. It’s like a 4-course meal in a 5-star bistro. When someone offers a contrite heart, takes responsibility, apologizes, offers restitution—there’s no restaurant on the face of the earth that offers up a more exquisite cuisine.

Yet, too often we’re like short-order cooks in a fast-food drive through. We say things like, “I’m sorry, but you took what I said all wrong.” “I’m sorry, but if you weren’t so sensitive, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

“I’m sorry, but if you understood my last couple of weeks, you’d cut me some slack.” “I’m sorry, but you know what kind of home I grew up in. I didn’t get the ‘relationship chip.’” “I’m sorry, but that’s just your reality.”

BUT, Father, nowhere in your Word is “I’m sorry, but” celebrated as the vocabulary of contrition. May your unfailing love and great compassion for us in Jesus free us from all our “I’m sorry, buts.”

Instead, may we offer many more of these: “I can see I really hurt you. What do you need from me?” “Tell me more about how my words and actions made you feel.” “I’m genuinely sorry, and I offer no qualifiers, just an apology.”

In Jesus, all our sins have already been forgiven—past, present, and future. May this astonishing Gospel-reality make it difficult, if not impossible, for us to remain clueless, careless, and heartless to our impact on others. We want to forgive as you’ve forgiven us, period. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.