The 7 A's of Confession
"I'm sorry I spoke the way I did, but you know I was really tired..."
"I'm sorry if I offended you by what I did..."
"Maybe I could have tried harder.."
"I guess I was wrong when I said those things about you..."
"Let's just forget the past..."
What do all of the above have in common? They are examples of apologies to others that fall short of what God calls us to as his children. In his book The Peacemaker, author Ken Sande set's forth a helpful paradigm for repenting to others in a way that will bring genuine forgiveness and reconcilliation in our relationships. He calls it the 7 A's of Confession.
1. Address Everyone Involved
"As a general rule, you should confess your sin to every person who has been directly affected by your wrong."
2. Avoid If, But, and Maybe
This is a great temptation that faces all of us when we apologize to others. By using these words in our repentance (see examples above), we lessen the force of our confession by shifting the blame to our circumstances or enviornment. We apologize, but then immediately excuse our actions.
3. Admit Specifically
Try to specifically name where you have wronged the other person instead of settling for broad generalities. Instead of saying "I'm sorry I have not been the husband I should be." Say "I'm sorry for my anger and harsh words which were unfair to you and a violation of God's command."
4. Acknowledge the Hurt
Our sins against others cause harm. When repenting, it is a good idea to acknowledge the harm that we caused.
5. Accept the Consequences
Being willing to accept the consequences of your actions demonstrates that you are truly sorry for what you have done.
6. Alter Your Behavior
A sign of sincere repentance is that you actualy change your behavior toward the person.
7. Ask for Forgiveness (and allow time)
It's amazing how hard it can be to actually verbalize the words "Will you forgive me?" Perhaps this is because it humbles us so much. When we ask this question we are not only acknowledging our sin and need for forgiveness, but we are putting our "fate" as it were into the hands of the other person.