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Session 16

How to say “I’m sorry”

Read: Psalm 51

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

How many times have you heard an empty apology? "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 loved God, but that doesn't mean 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 and hide it (2 Samuel 11).  

What made David "a man after God's own heart" was his repentance, not his perfection.

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 sincerely seek forgiveness.  

When we're truly repentant, 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). We might be able to pretend we're sorry for a while, but eventually, our real feelings always show.

In order for new attitudes and actions to last, we have to start with a change of heart. When our hearts are aligned with God’s, our actions will be, too (Psalm 51:17-19). And when that happens, God works through us to share His message of salvation with others (Psalm 51:13).

Reflect:

  • When was the last time you hurt someone and felt truly sorry? What did you learn from that situation?
  • Sometimes it's easier to ignore a problem than to address it. Is there any sin in your life you are trying to cover up with busyness or good works?
  • When was the last time you asked God to change your heart or give you a fresh perspective? Take a few minutes to ask God to show you anywhere your heart is not aligned with His. 

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