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How To Say “I’m Sorry”


Psalm 51

"I'm sorry, but...[insert excuse here]."  

How many times have we heard an empty apology? Or, offered it to explain our actions or end an uncomfortable situation?

"I'm sorry" means nothing unless it comes from a repentant heart.  
King David gives us a picture of true repentance in Psalm 51. David was a Bible hero because of his heart for God—not because he didn’t sin. David prays Psalm 51 after having an affair with a married woman, getting her pregnant, and having her husband killed to try to hide it (2 Samuel 11).  

David doesn't just say, "I'm sorry"; he means it.

He pleads with God to have mercy on him. He acknowledges and feels the weight of his sins, which are "always before [him]" (Psalm 51:1-3). When we're really sorry, we acknowledge our wrongdoing without making excuses, and we sincerely seek forgiveness.  

And, when we desire restoration, we want to learn and grow from our mistakes. David begs God to change His heart and restore their relationship: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:10-12).  

David also emphasizes that without a repentant heart, even his good works would mean nothing (Psalm 51:16-17). Superficial changes never last, because the heart always reveals itself.  

God wants more than empty words and deeds from us. He wants our hearts. And out of a changed heart our behavior will change. A humbled, repentant heart is eager to become more like Jesus.

When our hearts are aligned with God’s, our actions will be too (Psalm 51:17-19).  And when that happens, He can use our story to take His message of salvation to others (Psalm 51:13).


  • Do you feel separated from God?  If so, is there something you need to repent of?
  • Is there any sin in your life that you are trying to cover up with busyness or good works?
  • Is your heart open to repentance and change?  What is one way you can actively pursue a relationship -- or restoration -- with Jesus?

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