Learning to Apologize:
(Click for Audio) It may be a cultural thing, perhaps even a gender thing, but we all have different ways of handling the slights, barb and arrows we receive…and give.
You know what I’m talking about. You say something, and before you realize it, someone takes offense. You hear something about yourself and your blood boils!
When we do something wrong, and know that it is wrong the moment it is done, the best thing to do is to ask immediately for forgiveness. Scripture has taught us that we cannot be forgiven if we fail to forgive others. (Matthew 6:15). But apologies are generally something different. It’s true, you may utter the words:
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Humble pie and eating crow may have you saying the words, but both statements are equally important!
Asking for forgiveness is the second part of the equation. Admitting you were wrong, well, that’s the first, and often hardest part of the equation.
Why is this so hard? Why do we struggle saying we are sorry? Do we mean it? Or is it something we have just been conditioned to say?
One may say you never want to put yourself into the hands of another who has the power to forgive and remember the slight. Although, it’s an acknowledgement of something we said or did wrong, even though we did not have seen the wrongness at the time, even if it takes a while for it to be considered a slight. Too easily we find offense where none was ever meant!
Here’s My Thought: Perhaps the largest challenge we face is that the need to apologize and recognize it shows a character flaw, and we struggle with the flaw time and again. And we all have flaws! Imperfections that mar and weaken the very fabric of our identity. Remember my blog post, “Popbody’s Nerfect“?
How do we address this? “Quickly” would be the right answer! Recognize the wrong and work hard to make it right. Otherwise, everything else you do is doomed to failure! An apology not given or received is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. It will not take much of another such occurrence to cause it to come crashing down!
But here’s something very important to note: Learning to give and receive an apology is one of the most critical skills we need to be right in our relationship with God!
In his Sermon on the Mount, and in that portion of scripture where we learn the “attitudes” that we are to “be”, Jesus teaches us that anger is real danger, in the immediate world, as well as our eternal affairs. He sums up his teaching with action, and perhaps we need to learn how to act quicker when we have done something wrong!
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 NKJV)
This is where knowledge of anothers feelings against you are revealed. Make it right before you try to give God your gift. Even the Lord’s Prayer covers this from both directions.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NKJV)
It’s a two way street. Ask for forgiveness for the mistakes you make, and forgive others their trespasses as well.
“The ability of a person to atone has always been the most remarkable of human features.” (Leon Uris)
Perhaps the largest lesson to learn is two-fold. First is the sincerity required to show your true feelings of remorse, and Second, the lesson you learned that will help you make better choices in the future.
An equation worth remembering.