The Importance of Apologies — Respect, Caring & Trust

The Importance of Apologies — Respect, Caring & Trust

More than ever before we see the importance of apologies to restore respect, caring, and trust where deep divisions once dominated. We hope such expressions are rooted with pure motives and the sincere desire to reconcile relationships. But has the presence of so many public expressions caused us to somehow become complacent toward the necessity of apologies?

In a dream, I saw a small machine shed. A small tractor that once fit neatly inside the shed now had to be disassembled into three parts in order to fit. The farmer thought it normal to reassemble the tractor before each use. The shed had been made to fit the tractor, but now the shed had become the storage space for various sized pieces of junk metal. One by one, the farmer had thrown each small piece on a pile in the shed, hiding them from public view, until the shed was rendered useless. He had considered each small piece insignificant and developed a habit of ignoring how huge the pile had grown, adjusting his life to accommodate the ever-expanding pile of scrap metal.

The Holy Spirit seemed to whisper to me, “Each small piece is an offense. Apologies remove offenses and keep the floor of your heart clean.”

When I awoke, I thought of the times when sincere apologies restored key relationships. Each apology brought deeper respect, caring, and trust, allowing the relationship to grow stronger than before. The Bible offers a clear guide on how to apologize and respond to apologies.

Repent

Repentance refers to the action of simultaneously turning toward God (or someone else) and away from hurtful actions and words to restore relationship.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:16

James highlights the importance of taking personal responsibility for our wrongs, humbling ourselves, and confessing our failures. In one word, we call this an apology. After the apology comes healing — personally and relationally.

When we repent, we demonstrate regret for failing to value others (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Taking personal responsibility moves the relationship toward reconciliation and trust.

Acknowledge

An effective apology not only owns personal responsibility but also

  • shows a clear understanding of the hurtful, rude, or wrong behavior done through previous actions or words,
  • validates the depth of embarrassment or pain caused,
  • includes a statement of regret, such as “I am sorry,” and
  • contains a plan of action to change the behavior.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Proverbs 28:13

As in my dream, hiding offenses never helps. Although we may try to function around the “inconveniences” we have caused, we will never prosper in our relationships when issues remain unresolved. But as we confess to each other and purposefully turn from our selfish and insensitive ways, we will be shown mercy and kindness. Honesty opens the door to deeper respect, caring, and trust.

Not every apology follows a carbon copy procedure. A wise pastor once told me that a public offense requires a public apology, while a private offense merits a private apology. May God give us wisdom for each situation.

Respond

Many factors may limit a person’s ability to offer a clear apology. Perhaps, they view the relationship as too divided or unworthy of making amends. The offender may be in a position of power and feel like an apology will undermine his/her position of authority. The offender may view an apology as a sign of weakness, rather than the strength it really demonstrates. None of these excuses warrant the serious consequences of leaving wounds unresolved.

However, when we value our relationships as significant, we will seek the path of reconciliation and forgiveness. The importance of apologies cannot be overstated.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15

How we receive an apology is as important as the apology presented. Matthew shares this instruction from Jesus to forgive those who have offended us. Forgiveness is the first step to restoring relationships. The second way to respond would be to show appreciation for the apology, while asking for more time to heal from the offense. The third appropriate way to respond is to seek forgiveness for any offense on our part.

The main reason for and importance of apologies is to move relationships closer together. How we respond to the apology will effect that movement as much as the apology itself.

Don’t Wait

In my dream, the famer waited and waited and waited to seek forgiveness. Soon the pile of offenses had built so high he became oblivious to the negative impact it had on his life. Every delayed apology forfeits the opportunity for restoration and reconciliation.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24

Only when we make things right with each other will our relationship with God be in right standing. Let’s keep short accounts by quickly seeking forgiveness and showing honor to each other. Apologies demonstrate the highest level of humility, while proving respect, caring, and trust.

Oh, may we not forget the importance of apologies. A genuine apology expresses value to others and a sincere appreciation to God for how much He has forgiven us.

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If you find seeking and offering forgiveness difficult, perhaps these additional blogs may offer helpful tools and insight

5 Steps — Wisdom to Handle Insults and Accusations 

Mistakes Eat at Us: Dealing with our Faults and Flaws

Easter Part 2— Cleansing, Healing, And Restoration

Easter Part 2— Cleansing, Healing, And Restoration

At Easter, we celebrate the power of the blood of Jesus to align humanity with God’s intentions, bringing cleansing, healing and restoration. Since the original rebellion and turning away from God, all of us are bent in a similar direction. The corruption of our nature ebbs deep.

If ever we question God’s love for us, we need only look to the cross for the answer. The Father provided everything for our cleansing, healing and restoration through Jesus. Jesus gave everything for us through His blood.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

To restore humanity’s brokenness and renew their relationship with the Father, Jesus only needed to die — the innocent for the guilty. But Jesus went all the way, to the very last drop, to redeem us and purchase back everything the enemy had stolen.

Healing

People misunderstand Jesus as much today as they misunderstood Him over 2000 years ago. Isaiah hundreds of years before that wrote these compelling lines:

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought
us peace was on him
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-5

He suffered a brutal beating, standing in the gap for our pain, suffering, transgressions, iniquities, sickness, and diseases. Transgressions define the outward sins we commit, both knowingly and unknowingly. Iniquities form the under currents — the twisted and evil thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of our hearts.

After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter quotes Isaiah, changing the wording slightly to declare,

“‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.'”
1 Peter 2:24

It is finished! Sins forgiven. The guilty made righteous. Healing imparted to souls and body. Complete!

Cleansing

As the hammer descended, violently driving the nails through Jesus’ hands and feet, cleansing blood flowed and seeped into the dusty ground.

From the time of the first deadly assault between Cain and his brother, Abel, the blood of violence has been crying from the earth, appealing to heaven for justice and reconciliation.

“No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete our violence on the earth.”
Psalm 58:2

Bloodshed shadows every nation and all peoples. No race or tribe rightly claims exemption. We all need the cleansing that only Jesus’ blood provides. His blood heals the earth contaminated by cruel assaults, one against another.

Ana Mendez Ferrell articulates it well:

“From this blood we obtain triumph over iniquity, over sin, over the twisted, crocked way of our footsteps. This blood opens the way of righteousness, restoring the paths of our destiny. It opens roads to carry the Gospel where there is no path or any way to get there.”

Through Jesus, we all receive cleansing from past aggression (by us and against us), allowing hands to embrace others in love and feet to walk faithfully in God’s ways.

Restoration

Even after Jesus’ death, one last affliction caused a life-giving flow to be released on our behalf.

” . . . one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
John 19:34

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, this is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood . . .” 1 John 5:5-6

The Israelites, on their wilderness journey, felt their lives ebbing away as their water supply disappeared. They cried out to Moses for help. Then he cried out to God. God commanded Moses to strike a rock, and when he did, water gushed out. Water enough to sustain millions of people and their livestock.

The smitten rock in the wilderness was Jesus.

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:3-4

Later, when the people were in a similar situation, Moses struck the rock again instead of speaking to it as God instructed. God gave them water, but it cost Moses His destiny. In the same way, Jesus only had to die once for all! No other sacrifices are needed.

It may have been a soldier’s spear that pierced Jesus, but God released through Jesus’ body the blood and water that brings life — true life, daily life, eternal life — to us all! That life still flows, following us through our desert situations.

Celebrate

This Easter as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we thank Him again for His blood. May we appreciate, with renewed understanding, the cleansing, healing, and restoration found in Him alone.

No other ingredient or action removes the dreadful stain. No other Name heals our dis-ease and twisted motivations. Human decrees and laws prove powerless and feeble to unite and restore. As the old hymn writer, Robert Lowry, penned, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

But God! God, through Jesus Christ, secured it all! Praise be His Name forever!

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