Recently, while visiting with our son Patrick and his girlfriend Ashley in Pendleton, Oregon, an interesting brief encounter occurred. We were walking the streets of downtown Pendleton when Ashley accidentally bumped into a young adult. She said, “I’m sorry” and continued walking. I was lagging far enough behind that I heard the young man’s reply to Ashley. He said, “Don’t say I’m sorry, that’s a sign of weakness.”
I first said to myself, “Wow, that’s a strange remark.” Then I thought that if the day comes for him to get married he would need some serious premarital counseling!
I wish I had thought to ask the young man why he believes saying “I’m sorry” is a sign of weakness, but I didn’t. From a secular point of view I can see where he is coming from. If life is about accumulating the most toys, if people are a means to a self-centered lifestyle, if power and position are priorities, then by all means, don’t let anyone think that they can take advantage of you!
The gospel message is quite the opposite. In response to God’s grace we begin with the confession, “O God, I am so sorry that I have broken your will and betrayed other people and done wrong. I don’t want to live like this. Please forgive me.” Wherever and whenever we wound others and grieve God it is appropriate and necessary to express our sorrow. The strength of God has never been more powerfully displayed than by Jesus assuming human flesh and becoming a servant of all. Our strength lies in humility, which gives us the capacity to love, no matter the cost.