The Need to Apologize

Apologizing isn’t easy. Usually because we’ve done something we shouldn’t have–either intentionally or unintentionally–and caused someone else inconvenience or even pain, and now we need to face the person we wronged and try to say “sorry” for what we did. The guilt and the shame can feel paralyzing.

We can only hope they will forgive us – that’s up to them. But no matter how hard to do, we know that we need to apologize for our actions.

Psalm 51 is an apology written by King David after he committed adultery with Bathsheba. It describes in sad detail the guilt and shame David felt as he approached God to apologize and repent. He begins by admitting to God and himself that what he did was wrong

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

And he begs God to forgive him and strengthen him…

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David speaks his sin and sorrow aloud to God, knowing there is nothing he can do by himself to make up for his sin. He can only offer his brokenness to God, and repent…

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

As theologian Ellsworth Kalas points out in Longing to Pray, “Ultimately, the need to repent is even greater than the need to be forgiven. Something in the soul says, ‘I want desperately for our relationship to be restored; but above all, I want you to know how sorry I am that I have violated our friendship. To forgive is yours; to repent is mine.’”

God forgives our sins. We must remember our responsibility to tell him how sorry we are for those sins, and how thankful we are to receive his forgiveness.