As children we learn early how to say the words “I’m sorry.” Parents rightfully get us to practice the behaviour when conflicts arise among siblings and playmates. Eventually, a true sense of remorse must catch-up to merely frowning and saying the words reluctantly so that we can go back to playing. On one such occasion, my older brother and I pretended to run away from home to torment our younger brother. He was distraught by this. At the time I said “sorry,” but now when I think about it I truly regret it and my “sorry” is more real than ever before.
Saying the words and meaning it is at the heart of a true response to the good news of Jesus. When the Jews in Acts 2 realised what they had done to Jesus it says, “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). After recognising wrong comes the question, “how can I make this right?” The answer is that only Jesus can make it truly right. God’s call to us is to admit wrong and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our wrong. Our response to God and to each other is to say the words and mean it.