Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Confession, Repentance, Amends....

I grew up in an era where parents were perfect, or were supposed to be at least. Or pretended to me. Or were not but were not supposed to admit it publicly and certainly not in church. I remember distinctly knowing that an adult had lied but had no way of resolving that in my brain. It was simply covered over and never spoken of again.

Perhaps a parent didn't fulfill a promise or something was said in anger or haste...but no apology was ever given. Parents were not wrong. They were adults, and children needed to learn their place in life, and correction was not part of that.

While respect was taught with a great deal of fear based reverence, there are some things that I didn't learn along the way....the art of saying "I'm sorry" as an adult and making things right. JT and I struggled the first few years of marriage with just admitting being wrong and asking each other for forgiveness. We didn't want that for our children...a sense of pride needed to be broken in all of us so that we stood holy and blameless before our holy Father (and each other). So, we developed the following guidelines using Scripture...

1. Admit when you are wrong. James 5:16 says to confess our sins to one another. Agree that you have done wrong. In our house we raise our hands and say, "I was wrong. It was my fault. I admit it, and I'm responsible." Once I did this in a restaurant in Colorado to my husband. I said it loudly and openly. People clapped...why? We need to see that none of us are perfect and take responsibility for our sins!

2. Confess your sins! 1 John 1:9 says that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins when we confess them. Oftentimes we are tempted to say to others, "If I hurt you" or "Well my motives were....." We tend to excuse our wrongdoings or diminish the hurt in order to protect ourselves. Submit your will to the Father and confess your sins completely!

3. Ask for forgiveness! Colossians 3:13 reminds us that we need to forgive just as Christ forgave us. Be willing to ask for forgiveness and to give it freely! Part of forgiveness is being sure that you acknowledge what you did and confess it first!!!

4. Make amends! What if you stole money from someone? Does asking for forgiveness settle the debt? What if you were unfaithful to your spouse? Does asking for forgiveness make the trust come back? Romans 4:19 commands us to live in peace with others. Making amends is probably the least practiced of all the aspects of apologizing. If you sinned against another person and there is ANYTHING you can do to make amends for your wrongdoing, do it (as long as it aligns with Scripture). Redo a job done poorly, pay back your debt, apologize to others involved in the situation, etc.

We may not have been aware of how to seek forgiveness while we were growing up, but that is NO excuse for not teaching God's Word about forgiveness to our children! May we model the love of Christ through accepting our wrongdoings, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness and making amends daily!


Allison Lewis said...

oh, this is good. i had the exact same experiences as a child and when josh and i married, we struggled but VOWED to break the cycle of "i'm sorry" silence. i pray that our children are learning early to confess, love, forgive...and be forgiven. thanks for the wise words, friend!

Anonymous said...

Needed this today! Thanks Sheryl!
Elaine Poitevint

Debra said...

Good stuff...thanks. We, too, had to work on this AND on what to do when you are offended and the person who hurt may not even know they did anything to cause your hurt. Or when someone comes to you because it was your words or actions that caused the hurt. All things we need to learn how to handle in our lives. Can't say we do it right or well every time....life is definitely a journey. Glad the end of the road is heaven!

Anonymous said...

Sheryl - this is an excellent article. Sure am proud of you and hope you know I love you. Mom