Nothing like confessing a good ole bad habit, am I right?
Well, one of my absolute worst is my habit to incessantly say “I’m sorry”. I will apologize for talking too much, for talking too little, for being late, for being early, for asking too many questions, for not asking enough… if there is anything to feel remotely guilty for at any point in human conversation, I have probably said “sorry” for it.
As would be expected, my friends are very faithful to call me out on this. I can’t decide if this is because this habit is extremely annoying or because they are worried about my self-esteem or a mix of both. No matter what, I am glad that they say something, because it’s made me aware of how much I apologize.
One of my closest friends made me vow to never say the words “I am sorry” around him, which has helped, but it wasn’t until this morning that the Lord really hit me in the guts about abandoning this habit.
My morning devotional was Psalm 51:5-9:
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in the secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity”
What do we gather from this passage? Well, first of all, that I am innately sinful. That’s a fact. Sin is separation from God, the acknowledgement that our world is fully broken and wrecked by death, and that was written in my DNA from the first perceivable moment of life. We are also reminded that being sinful is not how things are supposed to be, because we are told that you (God) desire faithfulness and teach wisdom. Furthermore, this God that we serve has the capability to blot out all my iniquity and cleanse me and make me whiter than snow and make my sorrow turn into gladness. Hallelujah! We have hope to be rescued from our sinful state.
And how has our Father done this? We find out in the New Testament that he has done this by sending His only Son, who was perfect and without sin, to take on the death that we deserve so that we no longer have to answer to the permanent death we deserve. What freedom!!!
But what I realized is that when I continue to apologize as a result of self-doubt or self-depracation (NOT in situations where I have actually wronged someone and actually need to ask forgiveness), I am not living in this freedom. I am choosing to continue to believe only in the me that is innately wrong. I am choosing to believe that the opinions of other humans determine my righteousness. I am choosing to say that the sacrifice that was made was not enough.
Or as Tim Keller says better:
“Father, you can hide your face from my sins because you hid your face from Jesus on the cross. Yet I despise his sacrifice when I try to add to his work by beating myself up. Help me to honor you by believing in my forgiveness”
Maybe you don’t have as terrible of an apologizing habit as I do. But I think that we can all connect with this on some level. We are ashamed of our sin, and that is good conviction from the Holy Spirit. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can pay the price for that sin!
Lord, help me honor you by leaning into what you’ve already done for me!
What is a practical way to do this? Earlier today my dear Vivian sent me this picture. I think that it summarizes well the difference between showing gratitude versus living in shame for who we are. Instead of apologizing for brokenness, we should demonstrate gratefulness for the steadfastness and patience that others give to us, even when we may not deserve it.
Seek to give gratitude, affirmation, and encouragement (to yourself and others) instead of continuing to harp on a debt that has already been paid for us by Jesus!