If there is one area I see people routinely bomb out in, and that is in the realm of confession of wrongs or sin and the asking of forgiveness.
The usual method of confessing your sin against another and asking of forgiveness goes like is:
Those are the wrong way to make both a confession and an apology and yet it is what goes on all the time! These type of "apologies" cause more harm than they ever do any good. How likely is it that any of the above confessions or requests for forgiveness will lead to a resolution of the issue? Very unlikely in my opinion and my experience as a counselor and a wife and mom!
- "I'm sorry about the __________."
- "I'm sorry you feel hurt about ________________."
- "Say you are sorry right now or ________________"
- "I'm sorry you were offended/hurt by what I said/did"
- " I'm sorry I said/did (blank) but you..."
- "I apologize"
- "I SAID I WAS SORRY, OK?!"
- "Awww, I'm sorry. Forgive me?"
When making an apology, a person must first admit their guilt or failing. The confession must be specific to the offense and the confession must be as great and wide as the scope of the offense. For example: you are at women's Bible study one morning and you repeat something you heard about someone being diagnosed with an illness. You mean it as a prayer request, but you had no right to share it with anyone. When you realize what you have done, you must go to the woman whom you spoke about and confess your wrong to her. "Friend, I want to tell you that I told the women in my Bible study about your diagnosis. I shared it as a prayer request."
You must also tell the women in your Bible study what you did that was wrong. "Ladies, the other day I told you about a woman who has been diagnosed with an illness. I shared it without her knowledge or permission and that was gossip. I wanted to tell you that what I did was wrong."
When you are specific about what your sin you leave no room for doubt in the minds of the people you are confessing to. You leave no room for questioning what you said or did when you are specific about your sin or wrongdoing.
Once you confess you must take that next step and ask for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness is more than just assuming you are forgiven because you have admitted your wrong. It is also very specific. "Will you please forgive me?"
So a correct way to admit sin and ask forgiveness would look like this:
"Ladies, the other day I told you all that a woman has been diagnosed with an illness. I shared this as a prayer request. I was wrong for telling you that because I did not have her permission to do so. I am sorry for gossiping about her. Will you all please forgive me? I have also confessed this to her and asked her forgiveness. "
It is important that you receive a response to your question too. Either "yes" or "no" is an acceptable response, and be sure you get one or the other!
The reason this is so important is because it keeps your accounts clear with people and it prevents bitterness and hostility and division among us. We all sin against each other without meaning to, and it is so vital that we are humble enough to confess our sins, one to another and ask and receive forgiveness.
Think of how wonderful our churches would be if everyone practiced this principle of peacemaking! There would be no factions and divisions and splits over silly things and hurt feelings, but the sweet unity and harmony that God desires for us to have with each other.
Ladies, can I encourage you to begin to implement this into your lives? Personal peacemaking does not end with these things we have looked at this week, it begins there!
If you have never read Ken Sande's The Peacemaker I strongly urge you to do so! Once you read it begin to practice what you have learned in your own relationships. Like a pebble thrown into the center of a pond, your actions will ripple outward and affect everyone in your life.