More Than Words

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of His miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.  Matthew 11:20

8.13.20 More Than Words

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My kids are great at apologizing. “I’m sorry,” rolls off their tongue effortlessly, along with hugging me and saying they love me. I think it’s great they can admit they’re wrong, and use the words to say so. But it just isn’t enough.

What good does it do them, or me, if the only action that accompanies their words is hugging me? Of course, it strengthens our bond and makes us both feel better. But it’s not a step in preventing the mistake from happening again.

In fact, after the 100th “I’m sorry,” and I-love-you hug for the same exact action, the words feel pretty cheap. Anyone can say them. If there’s no behavior correction behind them, I know I can expect the same mistake, and the 101st apology, to soon follow.

Jesus went from town to town performing miracles as He taught about His Father’s love. You would think the townspeople would be so amazed by the life-altering miracles, they’d want to step it up: admit the mistakes of their past, ask for forgiveness, and make the needed changes to become better people. Instead, based on Matthew 11, it sounds like they wanted the easy miracle without doing any of the hard work.

And there’s the connection: My kids, and a great number of us, want the easy route. A word of apology here, a hug there, and we’re back to our old ways again. Self-introspection and a sincere effort to change our bad behavior sounds like too much work.

The thing is: The path to Heaven is not paved with quick apologies and empty actions. God sees directly into our hearts and knows whether we’re trying or not. Like me with my kids, I don’t think He demands perfection. But He does want to see us do the best we can to do the right thing, no matter how hard the effort may be.

Questions for Reflection:

      * When my kids make a mistake, do I see them try harder the next time?

      * When I make a mistake, does God see me try harder the next time?

4 thoughts on “More Than Words

  1. Great post Claire!!! I shared it with Mahre because I get so angry when she hands me the useless ‘sorry’. You prompted me to talk to her about it and she told me that when I tell her her apology means nothing to me because what I really want is changed behavior, it makes her so angry. So when I asked her what I could say that would be helpful she told me that it would probably help if I just said something like please promise me you will try harder to change your behavior, calmly. Thanks for being the impetus for our talk and hopefully growth.




    • This is awesome, Kerry! Mahre is such a mature and wonderful kid. I’m sure she was grateful you had the conversation and she got to share her perspective. You’re such a great mom for giving her that opportunity. 


  2. When I read your thoughtful reflection on words of apology and hugs from your
    children not being enough evidence to you that they were trying to change the bad habits/faults that caused your disappointment in them, another Scripture declaration of Jesus came immediately to my mind: “It’s not those who utter Lord, Lord, who will enter the kingdom of my Father, but those who do the will of my Father in Heaven who will inherit the kingdom. ”(Translation loose!) This teaching has always challenged me because I say “Lord Lord” so often with wholehearted faith, but being human I do fall into the same failings again and again. But the key you so clearly pointed out is that next time it confronts us we sincerely try to change and ultimately delete that fault, failing or sin. As you said, God sees our hearts and He knows whether we are sincere or not in apologizing … but God also knows that apologizing and hugging are the very first steps we need to take when we fail into whatever upset we’ve caused with family or friends, and believe me those first steps take courage, at least for me. So our God is patient, loving and understanding of our weaknesses, as long as we’re genuinely sorry enough, even if we’re not quite
    repentant as we say, “I’m sorry, etc. but know in our hearts, as God does, that we’ll eventually feel that repentance, along with a genuine determination to change next time that situation arises.


    • So beautifully said, Jackie! Aren’t we so lucky to have such a good and gracious God who is so patient with us? Now I just need to be that patient with my kids. 🙂


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