When was the last time you apologized?
I don’t mean the last time you choked out an “I’m sorry” after somebody confronted you with what you’d done wrong.
I’m not talking about the last time you “apologized” for something that actually was not your fault just to keep peace with someone you knew would be angry for days if you didn’t take responsibility.
I’m asking when you last sincerely owned up to having been truly wrong without first being confronted with that fact by another human being? In other words, when did you last respond to the Holy Spirit unmistakably showing you your wrong and prompting you to apologize for it?
Last week, last month, last year?
We are all guilty of sometimes saying the wrong thing, or maybe the right thing but in the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong tone.
Most of us know when we’ve done wrong. But we are loathe to actually go to the human being we wronged and own the fact with six simple words: “I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
You’d be surprised how many hurt feelings, broken relationships and lawsuits could be solved with those words.
Our problem, Christians included, is that we are too filled with pride to admit that we have made a mistake. Oh, we will own that “Nobody’s perfect.” We don’t mind admitting that “We all make mistakes.”
But we draw the line at getting specific about the wrong we have done and actually going to the person we hurt, looking them in the eye and saying, “I did this. I was wrong.” In the age of remote communication, we are even too proud to tweet, text or email the equivalent apology.
Instead, we go on just as if nothing happened. We mouth hymns seated beside the person we wronged. We talk about other things over lunch. We don’t apologize. We move on. But the people we hurt do not. They may not say a word, but the wounds we caused are real and lasting.
I am reminded of the Bible’s recounting of Absalom’s concealed hatred of Amnon after he raped their sister Tamar. Amnon never confessed the wrong he’d done. Absalom never forgave him but bided his time to avenge the matter, waiting two full years to have Amnon murdered. 2 Samuel 13
Resentment, bitterness and hatred grow between people when there is unconfessed sin and a refusal to forgive.
The Bible says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Confession brings healing to the soul that has wronged another. Forgiveness brings healing to the soul that is wronged. Even when a wrongdoer won’t confess and repent, true believers have an obligation before God to forgive them.
The Lord taught us to pray, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Luke 11:4a)
Biblical Christianity is not for wimps. Christians suffer many wrongs and cheerfully put up with a lot of crap. We do this out of love for God, entrusting ourselves to him.
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19)
We all wrong people. If you are the wrongdoer, admit it. If you are wronged, forgive. Pride goes before destruction; and life is too short to hold a grudge.