Three Little Words

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

three little words
You have probably heard it said many times that the three most important words you can learn to utter are I love you! There are few words that have the power that these three have when spoken out loud to your spouse or children. We need to develop the habit of saying them every single day.

I want to look at two other three-word phrases that are just as powerful and important, and perhaps, more so. They are I was wrong, and I am sorry. These phrases can be the hardest things to say sometimes. It's easy to say I love you. There are YouTube videos showing people's dogs saying it. Now if I could only teach my dog to say that! Seriously though, admitting we are wrong  isn't easy. It goes against our human nature. It means that we have to admit we aren't perfect, that we are weak, and that we have failed. The natural tendency is to protect our reputation and our ego. Rather than bring our weakness into the light, we try to hide it or cover it up.

I have learned that as a husband and as a father, uttering these two phrases when I have been wrong are the most powerful words I can speak to my wife and my son. You may be disagreeing right now and shouting at your computer screen that no, I love you is way more important and powerful. Let me explain why I believe this way.

In Matthew 5:23 Jesus addresses the issue of bringing your gift to the altar in the temple. For us, this speaks to our act of public worship - coming before God and worshiping Him. Another way of putting it is the act of telling God, I love you. Jesus points out that if we realize someone has been hurt or offended by us, we must go to that person and make things right before continuing on in our worship. Once we have reconciled things with those we have wronged, we can then freely come and worship God.

Here is the point I believe Jesus is really making here. Our words of love and adoration to God are empty when we refuse to speak words of repentance to others. It is impossible to truly love God when we refuse to make things right with others. Take this example. If I act like a jerk, do hurtful things to my wife, and then turn around the next day and tell her I love you, I create conflict. Those words ring empty and hollow because my actions do not back up my words. In fact, those three words which can be used to build up and bring healing can also bring hurt and devastation when misused. I have no right to say I love you without first saying I was wrong and please forgive me. A person that admits their mistakes and knows how to ask for forgiveness isn't seen as weak, but as strong and full of character. That person wins the admiration of those around him.

James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. I think admitting our mistakes, saying we are sorry, and asking for forgiveness is the path to healing. Tell your spouse and your children you love them. Say it often. But don't forget to be just as quick to say those other words - I was wrong, I am sorry, please forgive me. Three little words can instantly erase hurt and anger, diffuse conflict, and bring healing to any relationship. Try it. It works.

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