If you’ve ever hurt someone you really care about, asking for forgiveness can be a tough and uncomfortable task.
It takes humility and honesty. It requires us to publicly admit our mistakes to those whom we’ve offended.
I’ve talked to a lot of people about asking God’s forgiveness and I’ve found many aren’t actually asking for forgiveness, they’re simply saying they’re sorry.
That’s not the same thing.
Seeking God’s forgiveness requires many things:
- Conversion - if we really want forgiveness, we first must seek conversion. A conversion of heart. We must admit that our actions against God were so wrong that we must change who we are as to try and not let them occur again. We should “go and sin no more.” If we are not willing to change who we are, then we are simply admitting our mistakes, saying we’re sorry, not seeking true forgiveness.
- Confession - obviously, when we seek forgiveness we must confess our sinful behavior to the Lord, but we also confess that it is only through God’s holiness and infinite mercy that such forgiveness is possible.
- Forgiveness - as mentioned, through God’s holiness and mercy we receive such forgiveness, cleansing our souls, allowing for God’s powerful grace to enter our lives and guide us in our path of conversion.
- Penance - from the beginning of time, God has asked of us three things; belief, obedience and sacrifice. The first step for a person of faith to truly convert into a person who would not commit such sins in the future is to sacrifice our old ways in order to be a more obedient follower of Christ. In respect for our Lord and Savior, in doing so, we should offer a penance that has equal weight to our sin. Satisfying one’s offense against ones brother or sister is mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. Would not the same be expected with God? We should offer the Lord a penance that satisfies our offenses.
- Reconciliation - after we have sought conversion, confessed our sins, received forgiveness and satisfied our penance in our obedient path of conversion, we are finally reconciled not only to Jesus himself, but to His church worldwide. We are purified members of the Body of Christ.
However, so few people that I’ve spoken with actually seek conversion. They take God’s mercy for granted. They think that if we list our sins, that it’s the same as asking for forgiveness.
God already knows the list of our sins. What He wants is for us to change from being sinful to being holy. That cannot happen without a constant path of conversion.
If you read the story of the Prodigal Son, all of the things listed above are included in the story.
After leading a sinful life the son seeks to be reconciled with his Father once again.
- He is first willing to convert from his sinful ways to those in line with his Father’s expectations.
- He confesses his sinful acts to his Father.
- He receives forgiveness from his Father.
- He is willing to serve as a mere slave in his Father’s household as a satisfactory sign of his penance.
- Once reconciled with his Father, the family celebrates and the son is returned to his previous standing in the family.
God has x-ray vision into our heart and soul. He knows all of our acts and the intention behind them.
Don’t just tell God you’re sorry. When we seek forgiveness it must include an inner conversion so that we may truly “go and sin no more.”