Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

Life’s “Undo Button”

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Recently on Facebook, a friend posted the following comment:  “I wish life had an “undo” button. 

I’m betting Tiger Woods and Jesse James are wishing the same thing, too.  And Ann Curry and Jim Joyce are probably experiencing that “want to get away?” feeling after their recent public errors. 

Ann Curry gave the commencement address at Wheaton College.  At one point, she listed a few of the school’s more well-known alumni – only thing is, that the people she named graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, and she was speaking at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. 

Jim Joyce was the umpire who ruined a perfect game for Detroit’s Armando Galarraga.  With two outs in the 9th inning, he ruled the Cleveland Indians player, Jason Donald safe on a close play at first base.   

While most people think Tiger Woods and Jesse James were just plain stupid, Ann Curry’s gaffe, while preventable, was an unintentional mistake. 

But Jim Joyce – now here was someone who thought at that moment in time, that he was doing the right thing.  Only upon seeing the replay, did he see that he really did miss the call.  He later apologized to Galarraga.  And Galarraga graciously said, “He probably felt more bad than me.  Nobody’s perfect.” 

Aren’t you glad that most of our mistakes aren’t so public as the above examples?  But does that make them any less serious?

Looking through my study Bible in the concordance section, I did not find the words “apology” or “mistake” or “sorry.”  And there weren’t really that many references to the word “repent.”  There were, however, many references under the word “sin.” 

But one reference, under the word “sorrow (ful),” caught my eye.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation.  We will never regret that kind of sorrow.  But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death.”   The corresponding explanation given was “sorrow for our sins can result in changed behavior.  Many people are sorry only for the effects of their sins or for being caught (sorrow without repentance).  Compare Peter’s remorse and repentance with Judas’s bitterness and act of suicide.  Both denied Christ.  One repented and was restored to faith and service; the other took his own life.” 

The explanation of verse 11 went on to ask if we get defensive when we are confronted with our mistakes?  Do we let our pride keep us from admitting our mistakes?  Do we accept “correction as a tool for our growth and do all we can to correct problems that are pointed out to us?”  For myself, I would have to say “Yes, Yes and maybe.”

The big joke in our house is that if I say “I’m sorry” or “you’re right,” my husband will stop dead in his tracks and look at me with exaggerated surprise.  Then he will ask me to repeat myself.   Funny guy.  But saying the words, “I’m sorry,” isn’t always enough.  It’s the changed behavior that hopefully takes place that’s the “biggie.”   I think it was in Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, that pointed out some people are more “action” than “hearing.”  Basically, that there are some people who need to hear the words, “I love you” or “I’m sorry,” and there are those of us who need to “see” those words in action.

As I stated above, the references for “repent,” “sorry,” “apology,” and “mistake” are few.  But did you know that there are a multitude of references for “grace,” “forgiveness” and “mercy?” 

God says “I am the Lord, I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God.  I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness.  I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.”  (Exodus 34:6)

We need to acknowledge our mistakes, ask for forgiveness and change our behavior … all because of that “unfailing love.”


One thought on “Life’s “Undo Button”

  1. Another good blog, but one that I have some thoughts for consideration (not an argument or issue between us, just something we can both chew on).

    Your statements:
    But saying the words, “I’m sorry,” isn’t always enough. It’s the changed behavior that hopefully takes place that’s the “biggie.”

    and there are those of us who need to “see” those words in action.

    Here’s my question(s):
    1) For whose benefit is the act of apologizing (asking forgiveness) done? The offender or the person offended (wronged, etc.).
    2) What is the example/standard we are called to as it relates to forgiveness? Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
    3) How does God forgive us? I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12 and 10:17).
    4) Is appropriate for us to put a “condition” on our forgiveness (waiting to see if the actions line up with the words)? Aren’t we then moving into the area of judgment? And are we really able to judge with a God centered heart? Matthew 7:1-2 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
    5) And what if that person has to say they are sorry for the same offense? Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    No doubt we could go on forever and do a point – counter point scenario. No doubt repentance is absolutely a key part of the Christian walk and for some of us it takes falling many times in the same area and being rebuked with the loving word of God from our Christian brother to show us how what we are doing isn’t keeping with our walk in Christ. Forgiveness isn’t supposed to be for our glory (as I understand it). Our granting of forgiveness should be to bring glory and honor to God and show His love to those in deep need of it after hurting us.

    I think we expect to get the “feeling” of healing to come from the person saying sorry (and or changing actions), but as I reflect on it, I think we truly get the best feelings of healing from God as a gift of our honest and complete forgiveness granted to others. Thanks for the post. I have some issues where I feel I’m owed an apology and holding out for that so that I can forgive those people. God is telling me he has as different plan and my forgiving them isn’t supposed to depend on them saying they are sorry. I owe it to Him to show mercy and grace and continue putting “my needs” second.

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