Perhaps one of the most improperly used phrases, the title has lost any real meaning. To the world saying I’m sorry usually means “I got caught” doing or saying something perceived as wrong. However to the Christian, I’m sorry should mean so much more.
Like many other things, there are two kinds of sorrow; worldly and godly. Scripture tells us that “the sorrow of the world worketh death” while “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10). The Bible gives us a clear example of both types of sorrow. Both examples somewhat surprisingly come from two of Jesus’ apostles. One man denied Christ and the other betrayed Him.
During the last Passover feast the Jesus celebrated with His apostles, Peter was told that he would deny Christ. Peter denied that he would do such a thing (Matt. 26:35) yet later that evening the denial came (vss. 69-74). What was Peter’s response? Exactly what it should have been: “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (vs. 75). His tears and actions after the denial show the repentance Peter had for what he had done.
On the other hand we have the one who betrayed Christ. Judas also was told of his future actions during the same Passover feast. While they were eating, Jesus told the apostles that “one of you shall betray me” (Matt. 26:21). Notice however in this case that Judas did not try to deny what he would later end up doing. In fact Judas went hurriedly out of the supper to carry out his betrayal. Afterwards, when he realized fully what he had done, Judas was sorrowful yet that sorrow did not lead to repentance but to death: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood…he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:4-5).
It is unfortunate that the phrase “I’m sorry” ever has to be used. The person saying it is admitting to doing something wrong. All of us should try our best to never do anything that warrants an apology. However, in a moment of weakness and/or ignorance we sin in some way, I’m sorry is the first thing that that we should say afterwards. Make sure your sorrow is of the godly sort that others may truly know you mean it when saying you are sorry.
In Christ, Steve Preston