Memory Verse: “Let us, therefore, follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another”. -Romans 14:18.
BIBLE PASSSAGE: 1 SAMUEL 15:12-26.
Originally, the word ‘apology’ (or apologia in Greek) means a defence, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine. However, towards the end of the 16th Century, there was a twist in the use of the word “apology” to mean a written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured or wronged another.
As Christians, we know we are meant to be kind, loving, humble and respectful (Eph. 4:32). One true test of this is how we handle situations when we have been wronged or wronged by others. A lot of people find it hard to admit when confronted with the wrongs they have committed. Some may even find it harder to ask someone for forgiveness especially when they feel the other person shares in the blame.
- Why “I am sorry” is not enough.
- The Correct Approach
There is a subtle but sensitive difference between saying ‘sorry’ and apologising correctly. Most times, people’s idea of apologising correctly. Most times, people’s idea of an apology is insufficient. For some, offering an apology is all about verbally saying “I am sorry” but it is only a band-aid in that it covers up painful events for the other person without really making things right. It does not fully take into account the level of wrong done. Although, simply saying “I am sorry” might ease the tension of bumping into someone accidentally or mistakenly saying what should not be said, when we have truly wronged someone, that person needs us to accept responsibility for the pain caused. Saying sorry just because we are caught and not because we are humble enough to truly admit our wrongs or shifting blames (making excuses is called “fauxology” (false apology). This is wrong. God is not impressed (Gen. 50:15-18; 1 Samuel 15: 24-26).
Therefore, a true apology focuses on your actions and not on the other person’s response/action.
THE CORRECT APPROACH
Whenever we wronged God or someone else, God expects us to make things right (2 Chro. 7:14). Often, when a person apologises in the wrong way, the offence is not cleared. Some of the wrong approaches include the following statements:
- “I was wrong, but you were wrong too”. This is incorrect because you are not taking full responsibility for your offence.
- “If I have been wrong, please forgive me”. To use if, before your apology means that you are saying, “I am not really convinced that I was wrong”. Therefore it is not a real apology.
- “I am sorry I know I lost my temper, but you make me do it”. This is wrong because you are not taking responsibility for your wrongdoing but putting the blame on the other person.
- “I said I was sorry. What more do you want from me?” The apology is not correct because the tone is aggressive, not remorseful and may not give the offended enough time to heal.
To apologise correctly, we should take full responsibility for our offence, name the offence, ask the person to forgive us and wait for the answer(Matt. 5:23-24). If need be, offer also to make restitution (Luke 19:8).
Here is an example of the right way to apologise. “Chrisy, I was wrong in losing my temper and talking to you the way I did, please forgive me”. To settle the matter completely, if the person says that you are forgiven, it is good to ask, “Do I need to say any more about the matter?”
When a Christian apologises correctly, he is demonstrating humility, a character quality God holds in high esteem (James 4:10). Being reconciled to an offended brother or sister should be our priority (Matt. 5:23-24). Note that you do not apologise to people for being right with God (1 John 3:21).
Biblical examples of those that offered apologies correctly include the prodigal son (Luke 15: 17-20) and Jacob (Gen. 32:33).
Apologising correctly humbles us and reminds us that we still make mistakes and need forgiveness from God and others.
- Why is it that “I am sorry” is not enough?
- What is the correct approach to apologise?
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