A few nights ago Kim and I were doing some pre-marital counseling with a younger couple and we focused on the general idea of the Gospel being the centerpiece of marriage. In the process of this discussion, it occurred to me that asking yourself a simple question might be a good indicator of how well the Gospel is taking shape in your life. The question is: When was the last time I spoke these phrases?
1. I’m sorry
2. I was wrong
3. Will you forgive me?
If you find that you are habitually unable to say these phrases, you might have a gospel problem. The reason I say this is that these phrases underscore the fact that you are aware of your own sin. If you never see your sin, either you are perfect (not the case) or for some reason you can’t seem to come to terms with your sin and confess it. If you can’t come to terms with your sin and confess it then you probably are not pursuing the remedy for it, namely the Cross.
More specifically, it also seems as though the last phrase, “Will you forgive me?” is particularly humbling and yet produces a greater Gospel-centered blessing. We have started making our kids say this when they have sinned against us or one of their siblings and through this process we have started to use this phrase more in our marriage. I think this phrase is more difficult because it’s not just an identification of personal sin (I was wrong) but it places you in the humbling position of needing mercy. This goes beyond just stating the fact of wrong doing. Also, implicit in the statement (will you?) is an uncertainty that the forgiveness will be granted. When forgiveness is received from the person offended and the words “I forgive you” are spoken, it’s all the sweeter than someone saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not that big of a deal”. Sin is a big deal, but when it is pardoned the feeling of blessing is immense. To me, this statement highlights the Gospel in more poignant ways that simply saying “I’m sorry.”
Ask yourself: When was the last time you uttered these phrases to your spouse or those close to you? If you have not, why not?