Summary: The Bible never teaches us to say "I'm sorry". Why not? What is so wrong with saying that simply phrase when you've hurt someone?
OPEN: (We put a picture of a “Sorry” game board on the screen)
How many of you recognize this game board? And how many of you have ever played it?
Amazon.com says the game of Sorry is the #5 best-selling board game on their site.
But Sorry not really an original game. It is one many variations on a game that originated in India called Parcheesi. There are other games based on the same concept and they have names like:
• And there’s even a game called “Wahoo”
As I was researching this sermon I came across a picture of one of the boxes Sorry was sold in and found the tagline on the box called it “The Game Of Sweet Revenge”. And I thought at the time… that’s an odd phrase to describe a game that’s called "Sorry". We don’t usually connect the word "Sorry" with “revenge” – but apparently the company that owned it thought it was a great idea.
In fact, in a 1994 TV advertisement for the game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAQDpiBNTiw) that was precisely the idea. Ben Stein was portrayed as a stodgy teacher trying to teach his students about forgiveness. “Always remember to forgive and forget” he says.
But the kids are having nothing to do with it… they’re playing Sorry, the game of “sweet revenge”. And the voice over of the commercial says “I’ll get you for that!”
At the heart of the game is the acknowledgment that saying “I’m sorry” is not quite the same as BEING sorry. And actually that’s true.
Did you realize that the Bible never uses the words “I’m Sorry” Or “you should be sorry”. I looked it up! But by contrast, the words “forgive”, “forgives, “forgiven” and “forgiveness” show up at least 119 times by my count.
But why would that be?
Why would God prefer us saying “forgive me” to saying “I’m sorry?”
Well, because SORRY doesn't call for a response.
(At this point I went down into the audience and used a couple people as part of the sermon)
Let’s say, when I drove into the parking lot this morning I ran into Roy’s car. And so I go over to Roy and say “I’m Sorry.”
Does Roy have to respond to that? No, he doesn't does he? I have simply expressed that I’m sorry and I’m not looking for him to say anything in return.
But now, let’s say I drove into the parking lot and ran into Dave’s car here and I say to him: “Dave will you forgive me?”
(Wait, for a response)
You see, when I ask for forgiveness, I’m asking for a response.
Saying “I’m sorry” is actually the easy way out. Because if I were to ask for forgiveness I’d risk getting an answer I don’t want to hear. If I ask Dave for forgiveness what is one of the worst answers I can expect?
Asking for forgiveness exposes me to the potential of being rejected and humiliated. I don’t want to do that. So I may be more inclined to say something to you that doesn't ask you to say anything in response. To just slip by by saying “I’m sorry.”
Saying “I’m sorry” is just so much easier than saying “forgive me.”
And God doesn't want us coming to Him and just saying “Sorry”.
Now that doesn't mean that being sorry is a bad thing. In 2 Corinthians 7:9 Paul says
“…now I am happy, not because you were made SORRY, but because your sorrow led you to repentance...”
Their being sorry led them to repent.
Their sorrow led them to want to change their lives.
And that was a good thing.
But, too many times people will be sorry but never repent, and never change. That’s why God never tells us to just be sorry. That’s not enough for Him.
He wants our sorrow to lead us to repent and ask forgiveness.
He wants our sorrow to lead us to want to change our lives.
And if we are willing to ask forgiveness – if we’re willing to confess our sins to Him, admit we've been wrong and humble ourselves before Him - then God promises He WILL forgive us.
In 1 John 1:9 we’re told “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.”
I don’t want to get too technical on the original Greek of that verse, but basically it’s saying that as often as we confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness … God forgives. Every time.
ILLUS: One man explained it like this: Back in college, a bunch of the guys from his dorm floor went out to a nice restaurant before Christmas break to celebrate the end of their 1st semester as freshmen. His roommate, who loved the new policy that restaurants were adopting back then – unlimited refills on soda – so that night he drank Pepsi and Pepsi after Pepsi.