How Do You Say, “I’m Sorry?”

Most sermons about Jacob made him look like the scum of the earth. After all, he showed no mercy when his brother was hungry, which forced him to sell his birthright. He did steal Esau’s blessing. He did deceive his father. 

But that’s not all to his story. When you read his story you’ll see many more appealing attributes. For instance, he didn’t really want to deceive his father. He worked hard for his uncle, never stealing from him, and incurring losses he didn’t have to incur. He worked long sleepless nights. He was open and honest with his wives. And he tried to make amends with his brother. 

Most of all, he trusted God. No matter what kinds of fear he had when God spoke he obeyed.

How Do You Say, “I’m Sorry?”

When Jacob ran from his home 20 years earlier he hoped he would return home while his mother was still alive. That didn’t happen. His actions caused him to never see his mother again. Now 20 years later, God told him it was time to go back to his homeland. He obeyed. 

This is where it gets real for me. Even though Jacob obeyed God, it didn’t shake the fear he had of his brother Esau. His obedience didn’t take away his past actions and the damage it caused. He had no way of knowing whether Esau had or would ever forgive him.

What he did know is that God told him to go home. Whatever may come he was going to have to face his previous actions towards his brother. Obeying God doesn’t disqualify you from reaping what you’ve sowed. But in God’s mercy, He may lessen the blow for you like He did Jacob. 

The Prayer That Never Fails

Jacob sends his messenger to Esau to let him know he was coming in peace. He wanted to make amends. When his servant came back he told Jacob Esau wants to meet with you and he’s bringing 400 men with him. 

Now call me crazy, but you don’t bring a small army to greet your brother if you’ve forgiven him. It’s no reason Jacob became greatly distressed. I would have too. The first thing he does is divide his camp up so some can escape if Esau should try to kill them. Then he prayed, reminding God of what He said to him. 

This is my favorite kind of prayer because God is not a man that he should lie or the son of a man that he should repent. His word goes out and accomplishes what it was sent to do. He cannot break His word. He must do what He said He will do. 

Jacob told God the truth about being afraid of Esau and what he may do to his family. Honesty is the best policy. Besides, God already knows. He just wants you to share your heart with Him like you do with everyone else. 

Jacob Meets Esau

Jacob wanted to let his brother know he was sorry for what happened in the past. He put a strategy together to soften Esau’s heart towards him. He sent three waves of gifts with instructions.

When Esau finally got there Jacob bowed before him seven times, indicating complete submission to his older brother. He wanted his brother to know he was truly sorry for all that had happened. 

Esau hugged him and they wept together. Esau appeared to forgive him and told him to come home. Jacob didn’t seem too sure. He gave an excuse as to why they couldn’t journey together, and he would catch up to him later. Then Esau offered to leave some of his men behind. Jacob convinced Esau that wasn’t necessary. 

Esau concluded and went back to Seir. Jacob decided to go to Succoth for a while. For me, this is wisdom. I would not have trusted Esau either. He came with an army to kill me and my family. It was only because of God it didn’t happen. 

Show You’re Sorry, Don’t Just Say It

Jacob did his part. He tried to make amends by giving gifts and showing submission. This is how we all should be when we are sorry. It should cost us something. Words are just words, especially when you’re constantly saying sorry for the same old thing.   

Did you know that one of the offerings in the Temple was called a Trespass/Guilt Offering. (See Leviticus 5:14-19) In order to make amends you have to give restitution before you could even make an offering. Doesn’t this sound familiar? In Matthew 5:23-25 the scripture tells you to reconcile with your brother before you give your offering. 

Saying I’m sorry should cost you something because of the damage that was caused when the offense happened. Payment can come in many forms. Just make sure it rectifies the problem.

When you’re sorry do you just say the words? Or do you make restitution? Do you change or try to make better whatever harm you’ve caused?

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