Why Saying "I'm sorry" isn't Enough
It is humbling having to ask your children for their forgiveness. Tonight I reacted too quickly as I am so prone to do and was inappropriate in a reaction to a childish mistake. The look of stunned hurt on the face of my son cut me to the heart, and when he returned to the kitchen after an interval in his bedroom nursing his wounded spirit, I pulled him aside and told him I was sorry for sinning against him and against God in my actions and asked his forgiveness.
Admission of wrong doing is an activity that none of us are enamoured with. The amount of time we spend justifying our wrong behavior and attitudes is reflective of the amount of pride that exists in our hearts. We just hate being wrong and having others see it, so we seek to convince them and ourselves that we had perfectly good reasons for the actions we took or the words we said. If we are pinned to the mat, very often our response is a wrung out "sorry" that conveys more of the idea of "sorry I was caught" rather than the idea of "sorry I sinned against you."
I'm no different than anyone else in this respect. I hate being wrong, and I hate admitting it. I was having a discussion with someone the other evening on this very subject. He brought up something which is an encouragement to me as far as persevering in the severe art of humbling myself. He asked me how I felt towards someone who had sinned against me and had sincerely repented and asked for my forgiveness. Did it harden my heart against them or soften it? Well in nearly all cases, it softened my heart towards them and did a lot to rid myself of bitterness. Furthermore, it cleared the way for establishing renewed fellowship.
If this is true for people outside our family, then the importance of seeking forgiveness of one's children is infinitely more important because of the close connection that should exist. Parents who admit their faults, who seek forgiveness and who make restitution for sins they committed are not likely to be objects of anger, hatred, and bitterness by their grown children.
There are very few things that are as distressing as having a child against you unless it is the guilty knowledge that it is deserved. How much better it is to circumvent that whole process while there is yet time and learn to both ask and extend forgiveness as well as set a wholesome example of Christian humility. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.