Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. (2 Cor 7:8-9)
I can remember my mother telling me as she would discipline me that "this hurts me more than it does you". Not until I was a mother did I understand that statement.
When we say "I'm sorry for my sins, Lord" do we mean it or are we just saying it so that if we die we can tell the Father - "hey, I apologized for that!" True regret of the heart needs no words. The feeling of "what have I done" sometimes is overwhelming. At first we will try to brush it off and justify our actions, but then, if we are truly sorry, we lower our heads and say "I've sinned, please forgive me." Then comes the hard part - making it right again. Some of us cannot ever make it right, somethings cannot ever be undone. But there can still be forgiveness. There can still be healing. And true love offers forgiveness of all things!
A few years ago I received two very disturbing emails with allusions to my past that were, at best, inaccurate. They hurt deeply and caused an anger I'd not felt in quite some time arise from somewhere in the bottom or my feet and overflowed out the top of my head. At the same time, there was an equal amount of hurt and pain that this person thought so little of me that they felt the need to share these words with another. Of course, my first reaction was to sit down with my poison pen and retaliate. But God has blessed me with some very level headed friends who have reminded me that it's best to let it be. The person who sent me them, also sent me her reply to these letters and her words were tempered with love and compassion. She challenged the writer of these despicable exaggerations to focus on the good that must have been there, the changes that had obviously taken place and to examine their heart. She took the focus off the negative statements and challenged the writer to find the positives. She very inventively quoted a verse in the Bible reminding this person that God has asked many to do things that, to some, would border on the insane.
We can use the tools God gives us to benefit ourselves and others. We can take a lesson from Paul and know that although the harsh reality of discipline seems long suffering, it is not. The pain of the scolding fades, but the memory of the event remains very present in our lives. We, as Christians, must push through the hard times and find the joy. It comes in the form of love from the Father. The purpose of discipline is to learn from our mistakes. If we do not learn, then we are not sorry and cannot overcome the corrupt feelings we harbor. Forgiveness of others is something we cannot afford to neglect. Pray for those who hurt you, pray for those who hate you, pray for those who lie about you, pray for those who love you. None of us are above being forgiven and therefore should not consider ourselves to be above forgiving. There are two unequivocal truths in life: 1) We WILL die; 2) We WILL face the Creator and have to answer to HIM. Is your heart right with God? Have you done ALL he's told you to do? If not, you'd better get to work on it, for he will come "like a thief in the night" and it will be too late to say "I'm sorry".