As the teacher read over both students’ papers, she noticed striking similarities. Too many to be coincidental. She read and re-read not wanting to imagine that one of them had copied the other. After much consideration, she reluctantly confronted each student. Both denied copying the other’s paper, but the stories they told her and their parents had conflicting details. She didn’t accuse them, but the academic penalty was a failing grade for the assignment. Even when facing this consequence, neither student approached her with an “I’m sorry” or ever admitted to their mistake.
I reluctantly confess: I’ve committed similar mistakes as these two students. And unfortunately, I’ve often responded in like fashion. Human nature chafes against the simple but difficult procedure of saying, “I’m sorry.” The better way? Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. (James 4:9 NLT) Rather than accept the challenge James suggests, I often resort to other methods to escape my responsibility. Psychologists refer to them as defense mechanisms. Methods I use in place of saying “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong.”
I often avoid responsibility and guilt by using projection. This allows me to transfer to others the problem that actually belongs to me. Whatever my sin or fault, I see others as having it instead of admitting I do.
Rationalization and justification also make it difficult for me to say “I’m sorry.” When life gets tough, it’s easy to justify poor decisions or sinful activities. Once justified, I can rationalize them away by convincing myself that God will overlook them because of the tough spot I’m in.
The healthier response is simply to express sorrow for what I’ve done or said. When I make this step, God will renew my joy, give me new direction, and often restore relationships that have been damaged.
Is sorry a difficult word for you to say?
Prayer: Lord and Savior, give us courage to repent and say “I’m sorry” when we’ve sinned against You or others.
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