“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
Shortly after Kendall and I were married, we welcomed the sweetest chocolate lab into our family. His name was Brave. He was a great dog. There’s a lot that you can learn from a dog, especially an intelligent one like Brave.
Dogs are smart. It’s my belief that dogs have consciences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions just like humans. Perhaps they are not as complex as us but they are not like the tin man (Wizard of Oz) without a heart.
One Sunday after church, Kendall and I brought home a box of Bojangles’ Fried Chicken. There’s absolutely nothing I would rather eat for Sunday lunch than fried chicken and Bojangles’ has some of the best. On this particular day we ordered more fried chicken than we could eat and brought the rest home with us. We placed the box of leftover fried chicken on the kitchen counter and headed out for our Sunday afternoon responsibilities.
When we returned home later that evening something wasn’t quite right. I noticed the box of Bojangles’ fried chicken was placed neatly on the ground in the kitchen beside the trashcan. That was odd. I was certain that we had left it on the counter. I opened the box and it was completely empty. Not a crumb remained. I asked Kendall, “Hey, did you eat the rest of the fried chicken?” She said, “No, there should be several pieces still in the box.” “Hmm? That’s odd. The box is completely empty.”
Just then a thought passed over me. “Where’s Brave?” We searched the house and found Brave. He was acting very strange—kind of skittish—slinking away from us. He seemed to be a bit afraid of us—like we were going to be mad at him. He was acting very guilty, like he had done something he wasn’t supposed to do. “Brave, what’s wrong buddy?” I reached down to pet him and he kind of flinched. “Aha!” Brave had eaten all the remaining fried chicken—bones and all.
He knew that he was wrong. His conscience was accusing him. He was doing his doggy best to say he was sorry. We didn’t even have to confront him or interrogate him. His body language screamed two things: “I’m guilty and I’m sorry.” This is just another reason that a dog is a man’s best friend.
Perhaps you have had a similar experience with your dog. Dogs are easy to get along with. They don’t shift the blame. They don’t make excuses. They don’t try to argue their way out of the wrong they’ve done. It’s not hard to forgive them because their sorrow is so convincing. They readily admit they are wrong. We’ve got a lot to learn from them.
Most people I know are the direct opposite. I’m the worst of all. It’s always someone else’s fault. Somebody else made me do it. The list of excuses we come up with to avoid taking responsibility for our actions and the wrong that we do is unending.
Why is it so hard for people—for you and me—to say: “I was wrong and I’m sorry”? We are much more likely to attempt to right our wrong than to simply say we are sorry. We do our best to cover our tracks–to figure out how little responsibility we can take for what we’ve done. We try to make it up to the people we hurt thinking that our kindness can cover our sin.
It can’t! You can’t take back what you’ve done. You can’t right your wrongs. It’s impossible. You can, however, say: “I was wrong and I’m sorry”.