By David Cotner
“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Seven words and two sentences (one a declarative sentence and one an interrogative sentence) that will change your life and your relationships for the better. Here’s a challenge question for you: How often do you use the above two sentences? Only you can answer this question (and perhaps someone who really, really knows you). So, here’s perhaps a better question: How often should you use the above two sentences? Answer: As often as is needed. Seriously. That’s the answer . . . it’s as simple as that.
Okay, so why should you use the above two sentences? Answer: Because relationships matter and maintaining healthy relationships demand this posture of humility and love. Makes sense, right? I mean, here’s a fact: You’re going to mess up in the plethora of relationships that you have; and if you want to get these relationships back on track, and maintain these important relationships, you’re simply going to have to admit when (not if) you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. Okay . . . but what are the practical benefits of using these statements? I mean, no one wants to admit when they are wrong. Indeed, as frail human beings, we have the innate desire to always be right and to be recognized as always being right. Well, I believe there are three remarkable benefits to uttering these seven life-changing words:
- Joy. Doing the right thing always releases the blessing of joy. This is simply a point of fact . . . just search the Scriptures to see that obedience always leads to joy! When God grants to us the grace of courage to admit when we are wrong and then gives to us the grace of humility to ask for forgiveness, true joy ensues. Harboring an attitude of pride and arrogance tends to squelch true joy. Humility and love tend to release true joy.
- Peace. There is truly a sense of peace and calming that washes over your very soul the moment you admit to another human being that you’ve been wrong and need their forgiveness. Yes, it’s humbling, and potentially embarrassing, to admit when you’re wrong, but the long-lasting peace that results when you do this far outweigh the momentary sensations of embarrassment. I truly believe that so many people experience unneeded stress and friction in their relationships, simply because they refuse to admit when they are wrong and refuse to ask for their much needed forgiveness.
- Credibility. I have personally experienced this amazing benefit to uttering the words “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” It tends to totally disarm an individual and (simultaneously) build your credibility towards them. If you are genuinely wrong on an issue or an action, and then go so far as to maintain that faulty position, well, that tends to destroy your integrity and credibility. Simply uttering these seven words rebuilds your credibility and repairs your relationship.
In the end, doing the right thing always has positive benefits, but doing the right thing should not be done for the benefits, but simply because it’s always the right thing to do the right thing. Sound like utter nonsense? Maybe. But that’s the God-honoring, Christ-exalting way to live.
David Cotner is pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church, Washington, Iowa. This article was first posted to his blog and is reposted here by permission.