Sometimes I think we forget that “sorry” is not a magic word like “please” and “thank you.” Sometimes people act as if it is, as if we are playing a game of Simon says or something, following rules rather than common sense. Oh shoot, you said the magic word and now I’m mandated to forgive and forget!
Alcoholics are always sorry…… for about 3 hours. Domestic violence perps, so, so sorry. Addicts, sorry, I’ll never use drugs again! Wash, rinse, repeat. People being booked into jail, really, really sorry. A guy once stepped on my toe said sorry, and did it again until I got the point. I got the point. Then I stomped on his toe.
No, I am not required to forgive an alcoholic 70 times 70 because Jesus said judge not and turn the other cheek. That’s rubbish. I am however, required to find a way to put away all my OWN wrath, bitterness, resentment, whatever I may have allowed to fester within me because of said person.
Sorry means sorrow, to be sore of heart. There are many reasons why one might experience sorrow, most of them usually self-inflicted. Sorrow is not repentance, but being sore of heart can sometimes lead people to repentance, to metanoia, literally “a change of heart.”
Asking for forgiveness is another way people sometimes say “sorry.” Asking people for forgiveness is also not a magic word. In fact, it can even be manipulative, abusive, and controlling. People are not looking for a metanoia, a change of heart, they are attempting use you as their substitutionary repentance and grace. Point them to Christ.
I never ask anyone for repentance nor do I ever repent to anyone. It has to do with lines of authority. I do not have the authority to forgive sins. Neither do you. Only Jesus Christ does. Acts 10:43 says, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Through His name and His name only.
If someone says, “can you ever forgive me for my sin?” Actually, no. I cannot. I am not authorized to do so. But you can apologize for getting your sin all over me, if you like. Forgiveness and mercy are about the condition of one’s own heart, not the forgiveness of other people’s sins for them. That would be substitutionary repentance and grace. Nothing but the blood of Christ washes away sin.
The Lord’s prayer says, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We recognize the grace we ourselves have received and forgive those who trespass upon us with their own mess. We are not granting anyone else forgiveness of sins. We are recognizing that we sin against God Himself, so we are merciful of those who do the same. Grace has a very reflective nature to it.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32
Not only do we not have the authority to grant grace, redemption, metanaoia, for other people’s sins, we lack the ability to prevent them from suffering the consequences of their own sin. We are not committing the sin of unforgiveness by filing a police report or asking for justice. It is not virtuous or moral to demand people ignore evil and deny justice.
People don’t actually sin against us, they sin against God. We do not sin against other people, we sin against God. It is His forgiveness we need, His grace, His redemption.
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” -Like 7:47
Grace is actually unmerited favor, meaning it is not owed to anyone, no one is worthy of it, no one is entitled to it, saying magic words does not earn it, nor is grace a guarantee we will not suffer any consequence from sin. You can be deeply loved, saved, forgiven, highly favored even, but you can still wind up bankrupt, divorced, unemployed, or in jail.