One of the sweetest things I’ve ever learned about the Lord is that He heard every silent whisper of my heart, long before I had the courage to say anything out loud. Specifically, He heard my sorries.
I so desperately wanted to please Him, and I had always been a person that wanted the approval of others, so every time I would say something dumb or act unbecoming, my convicted heart would silently say, “I’m sorry.” And I would try again to be better.
But what I didn’t know is that every time my heart whispered, “I’m sorry,” God took my repentance and washed me clean of my sins. Whereas in my mind they were all compounding into a mountain I would never be able to crawl over, the Bible says, “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]” (1 John 1:9, AMP). Every sincere (freely admitted) whisper of my heart was all God needed. Discovering this truth made me love Him all the more.
But what about yourself? What about others?
God forgives us, but it’s not always easy to forgive ourselves. And if we’ve offended someone else, they are as human as we are, so a sincere sorry doesn’t always mend things as easy as it does with God.
The battle is real.
Someone once asked me, “Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves?” The answer is simple. You live with you and you know all the thoughts and actions of you (forgive my grammar). In other words, part of you is battling great regret for something you can’t go back and reverse or change, while the other part of you agrees with the regret–so a stalemate of unforgiveness happens. The same is true with others, except you can’t control their response.
What I’ve learned is that a sincere sorry is necessary in all three cases: toward God, toward yourself, and toward others.
Whisper it, say it out loud, message it any means you can, but it must be sincere. With God, He receives it immediately and washes away all remembrance of your wrong. The same can be done with yourself if you’ll remember that God has already forgiven you and has given you the power to forgive yourself. Say it. Receive it.
Others? This might be the most difficult one because they may or may not accept your repentance. It depends on where they are spiritually, and how deep the wound was. But whatever you do, don’t take back your sorry. What I mean is, sometimes when others are slow to forgive us, we are tempted to get angry and defensive about it. Don’t do that. Hold on to the sorry you whispered initially, while remembering if God forgave you, you are forgiven. The devil will try to bury you with regret or embitter your heart with theirs– don’t give him that power. Stay sincere. Every time it comes to mind (whether it’s toward yourself or another), remind yourself that God has cleansed you of that wrong. All you can do now is move forward with sincere intent to not make the same mistake twice.
BUT… if you do repeat your wrong (which I have done before), the same still applies. Recognize it, say a sincere sorry, and receive God’s grace. “God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong” (GW). This is the starting point. The rest will follow eventually.