Friday, March 11, 2005

I Apologize

I Apologize”, probably the hardest two words in the English language to say together. How many friendships and marriages end because someone refuses to say these two words? Why is it so hard? Is it our false sense that we can achieve perfection? Is it our prideful ego? Maybe we believe our sin is not as grievous as those who live as pagans. It becomes ever more difficult when you realize that in order to apologize; you must also be able to forgive.

First, when is an apology most effective? An apology is most effective when it is offered by the one who committed the error or wrong. In recent times universities in the South have issued apologies for its practice of segregation. Many times the government has apologized for its practice of slavery. These apologies are all well and good, but with the passing of time they have lost their ability to heal. They would have been so much more powerful if the apologies would have come straight from the slave owners or university presidents at the time. My desire to apologize for someone else’s actions is well intentioned, but in the end there is little value. The most valuable apology I can offer is to those I have wronged or offended.

Second, when is an apology called for? So many times we feel no need to apologize because either we believe it’s not our fault or believe we did nothing wrong. Children have the hardest time apologizing because they are still learning how to behave and most times are unaware that their wrong actions have caused harm or hurt. But for those of us who are grown adults, we are fully aware of when our actions cause harm or hurt. We need to apologize when we put our pride before our family and friends. We need to apologize when neglect those strangers at church or work for the sake of our comfort zone. We need to apologize when we try to be funny at somebody else’s expense. We need to apologize when we so easily gossip about those we supposedly call our “friend”. As you can see there is always a time to apologize. Waiting for an apology is like waiting for rain in the desert. Let us always be the first to apologize.

Third, is forgiveness essential? Absolutely. The whole point of apologizing is the hope that we can be forgiven and reconciliation can take place. If we don’t forgive others, how can we expect to be forgiven? We must always remember the warning of the gospel in that the measure you use will be measured back to you. The spirit of an apology is nothing without the spirit of forgiveness. If we are the first to apologize, then let us also be the first to forgive. It is much easier to apologize and forgive when you realize what you have been saved from when Christ offered an apology to God on your behalf.

So this week I encourage you to put your pride aside so that you may be able to be the first to apologize and the first to forgive. Ask yourself; is there any friendship or marriage worth losing so that your ego can stay intact? The answer may seem like an obvious NO, but a 50% divorce rate tells me many people are answering YES. At times I too have answered YES and for that I apologize.


Coming Next Week: The Definition of Democracy


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