“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; According to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!” Psalm 51:1-2

This Scripture is both encouraging and convicting. Few things are as attractive as genuine humility. It’s like a five-course meal in a five-star bistro nestled in the Swiss Alps.

When someone offers a contrite heart, takes responsibility for their failure, acknowledges the impact of their choice, asks to be forgiven, and seeks to make restitution … it’s a feast of grace. No restaurant on the face of the earth that can offer a more exquisite cuisine. Yet when it comes to asking for forgiveness, we’re often like short-order cooks in a fast-food drive through.

Too easily we say, “I’m sorry, but you took what I said all wrong.” “I’m sorry, but if you weren’t so sensitive, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.” “I’m sorry, but if you understood what my last couple of weeks were like, you’d cut me some slack.” “I’m sorry, but if you know what kind of home I grew up in you’d realize I didn’t get the ‘relationship chip.'”

Yet, we’d be hard pressed to find one instance in God’s Word where the phrase “I’m sorry, but” is celebrated as the vocabulary of genuine humility.

We need God’s help to be free from the “I’m sorry, buts.”

Think and Pray

We want to be quicker with: “Will you forgive me?” “I can see I really hurt you. What do you need from me?” “Tell me more about how my words and actions made you feel.” “I’m genuinely sorry, and I offer no qualifiers, just a sincere apology.”

Father, you show great and constant mercy to us—according to your steadfast, immeasurable, inexhaustible love. Thank you! By the power of the gospel, may it become increasingly easy for us to humble ourselves, and incredibly difficult to remain proud, excuse-making, and unbroken. So we pray in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name. Amen.


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He is a contributor to The Gospel Coalition and has authored several books, including Speechless with Steven Curtis Chapman and Every Season Prayers.