Let’s Have Done with “I’m Sorry, But”

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

Heavenly Father, this Scripture is both encouraging and convicting. Few things are as attractive as genuine humility. It’s like the brisket at Hot Spot BBQ in Pensacola, or a Cobia filet at Winter Park Fish Co., or breakfast in my favorite Swiss bakery shop. Humility looks, smells, and tastes so good.

When someone offers a contrite heart, takes responsibility, and acknowledges the hurt they caused, it’s a feast of grace. No restaurant on the face of the earth that can offer a more exquisite cuisine than genuine brokenness and humility.

Yet when it comes to humbling ourselves, we’re often like short-order cooks in a fast-food drive through. We sabotage our repentance with, “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 experienced my last couple of weeks, you’d cut me slack.”

Yet, Father, we’re hard pressed to find one instance in your Word where the phrase “I’m sorry, but” is celebrated as the vocabulary of genuine humility and repentance.

Free us from our “I’m sorry, buts.” May we be quicker with: “I see I really hurt you.” “Tell me more about how my words and actions made you feel.” “I’m genuinely sorry, and I offer no qualifiers, just a sincere apology.” “Will you forgive me?” “What do you need from me?”

Father, you show great and constant mercy to us—according to your steadfast, immeasurable, inexhaustible love. Thank you. By the power of the gospel, may it become increasingly easy for us to humble ourselves, and increasingly difficult to remain proud, excuse-making, and unbroken. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.