Apologies

The reason for apologies is not to sooth the person who has been injured. It is to better the soul of the person offering the apology.

Forgiveness should be given regardless of apology, in fact it is better without an apology. Forgiveness is the grace of the injured. Demanding an apology is a lack of grace. Desiring an apology is hoping that the person you have forgiven will grow from the damage they have done. The reason bad things happen is so we can all grow, victims and perpetrators alike.

A few years back my step son showed a great lack of respect for his mother. We demanded an apology, wanting him to acknowledge the pain he had caused. Instead, he refused. He said, “I’m not going to apologize because I’m not sorry”. At that moment he earned a great deal of respect from me. He was not going to give a phony, meaningless apology. I realized that he had adequate character to learn from the situation, and some time later he did make amends. I think we all learned from that incident.

A few other people out there have displayed only their weaknesses, we all travel through life on separate paths. I was speaking with someone about one particularly disappointing individual the other day. He has my forgiveness, but I will never let him close enough to do any more harm. In Matthew chapter 18, “21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” It takes a lifetime to forgive that often, until the only response left is to expel the person from your life, as earlier in Matthew 18:17 “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” So it goes.

The essence of an apology is the recognition of injury, and the desire to cause no further pain. In the case of spreading hurtful words, an apology does not require the strength to face the injured party(s), but a first step would be to stop causing pain. A person of character might rescind his comments, “Bob, you know when I said this? Turns out it wasn’t true”. A truly weak person continues spreading the story, knowing it to be false, to preserve their own ego. That person requires forgiveness, an exposure to grace, more than anyone. Sometime after seventy times seven times it is time to just walk away, as a final act of grace.

These things have been difficult for me to learn. My life has been entwined in repairing things that are broken, giving up was never an option. I wanted apologies not to ease my pain, but to satisfy my need to repair the other person. Some people can’t be fixed. It was never my job to fix them, just to give them opportunities, which I have, as they have given me the opportunity to grow.

In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Christ gives what I consider to be our most important lesson, “43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Those that hurt you give you people to forgive, and for that alone you should love them. Continue to aim for perfection, which in this case means “completion”. We exist in our own bubbles, other people are only opportunities to respond gracefully, or less so.

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3 comments on “Apologies

  1. MIke R says:

    As we understand the depth of our own sinfulness and insufficiency before God, we are led to recognize that the sins of another towards us are no worse. In the Lord’s Prayer, our Lord included, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” If we are truly aware of what the Lord has forgiven us of (I we are believers) than we realize that the sins of others against us pale in comparison. If God has forgiven me, how can I not forgive others?

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  2. Alice Sanders says:

    I understand that forgiveness of other people is mandatory if we want God to forgive us. Some people say, “I do forgive, but I will never forget.” Maybe we won’t forget, but I have also seen people who in their perceived sin against them, there would be no end on the revenge they would try to inflict on another. I forgive because it is a requirement of God, but that doesn’t mean I must be best pals with someone. God doesn’t want us to be a door mat, I don’t believe, and if we should allow others just to run rampant all over us, then it is our own fault. If one remembers the story of Paul and Barnabus goind different ways, I believe this is a story that tells us we can do the same thing. There is no reason why God would want me to continue to subject myself or for any other person to continue to be subjected to mental abuse by another person for the sake of forgiveness…Yes, I forgive, but like Paul, I will depart.

    I think of how many of my days were turned gray by quarreling in my mind of any perceived injustice toward me while the supposed inflictor of my pain didn’t have a clue. But now that I understand forgiveness, I also understand I do not have to be subjected to abuse.

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