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

Shake Off Shame and Walk Free

Shake Off Shame

Whenever we experience failure, shame and pride attempt to cover. God offers the only sure way to shake off shame, allowing us to walk free.

Three times in the last few weeks, I have been confronted by hidden shame. We may attempt to hide areas of shame in a thousand different ways, but it will insistently peak through cracks in our facade. Often, we don’t even recognized the root, but the desire to conceal any area of our lives reveals shame as the underlying source — a source resulting either from my failures or the failures of others.

Whenever I am asked to share my testimony, feelings of shame inevitably rise. The root may spring from my foolish or even sinful decisions. Other shame originated in the violations others perpetrated. After intentionally seeking repentance, and receiving, as well as extending forgiveness, I live relatively free. Yet, faint shrouds of shame still haunts, causing frustration. Why?

Fear not, for you will not be put to shame, And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced, But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.”
Isaiah 54:4

This verse offers hope! In it Isaiah connects four integral components: fear, shame, humiliation, and disgrace.

Fear

King David faltered and fell in a huge way. First through committing adultery and then, out of fear of being discovered, he murdered an innocent man. Shame will lead anyone, even a righteous king, down a path they otherwise would never have gone. Afterward, shame always seeks a place to hide.

Jon Bloom describes the deadly combination of pride and shame well. As if shame didn’t carry enough of a burden, it frequently partners with pride. Rather than expose us to shame, pride convinces us to bury it in all the wrong places.

Paul beautifully wrote,

“But we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:2

David eventually renounced his hidden sin, which wasn’t as hidden as he hoped. When he openly confessed it all to God and others, he received the ability to shake off shame and walk free of his past.

Shame

Dictionaries define shame as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It carries strong regret and reproach.

King David’s shame resulted from his own sin. Often the most intense shame we feel comes by the misconduct of others, through disrespect or violation through words and deed. Shame-filled people often shame those around them as a means of covering their own condition.

“Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land. Everlasting joy will be theirs.”
Isaiah 61:7

What a beautiful promise! Those who have experienced abuse or misuse will receive a double portion. Get ready! God is about to give double for the trouble others have caused. He will bring honor, praise, respect, and esteem to you in double the measure for wrongs inflicted upon you. As we resist proud coverups and walk humbly, God will bring you blessing.

Because sin resides both in and around us, shame may subtly come to cloak us. Either consciously or subconsciously, we begin to align ourselves with the accuser in self-condemnation.

“Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors. I will save the lame and gather the outcast. And I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.”
Zephaniah 3:19

The woman who suffered from bleeding for twelve long years, secretly attempted to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Cultural humiliation of her condition drove her low. Jesus healed her, reversing the shame unjustly placed on her.

I honestly believe the weak and broken will maintain a higher position in heaven, receiving eternal rewards to compensate for the misplaced humiliation and shame they endured here on earth.

Disgrace

Disgrace refers to a loss of reputation and respect. God reverses the plight through His unprecedented and unmerited grace. Any degradation, discredit, or dishonor experienced, He removes, replacing it by with His grace.

Instead of hiding behind pride, expensive clothes, educational titles, successful businesses, lofty positions, or glass pulpits, God invites us to the only sufficient hiding place, Jesus Christ. As long as we choose to cower behind bitterness, resentment, sarcasm, or insecurity, we will remain prisoners of shame. To shake off shame and walk free, we follow the humble road to Christ.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
1 John 1:9

Here is the catch! We may have memorized hundreds of Bible verses, sought God’s forgiveness, and liberally forgiven others without finding freedom from shame. The residue of shame may continue to limit our ability to move forward.

A Spiritual Issue

As much as shame roots itself in human behavior, it contains a spiritual dimension. When we choose to take a stand and say, “No more!” shame must go.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:6-7

Here’s the real deal! We may have humbly approached God, honestly confessing our sins and the violations of others. If so, we have received His beautiful grace, and submitted to a new way of thinking and living. One last, most crucial step remains — resist the devil.

In my instance, to shake off shame and walk free, I had to verbally declare,

“Devil, you no longer have the right or authority to hold shame over me. Jesus Christ has taken care of it all. His double-portion promise of honor, praise, respect, and esteem now belongs to me. So get lost! Get out! In the mighty name of Jesus, I command all shame to leave. You are no longer welcome in my heart, mind, or soul.”

Honestly, with the verbal renouncing of shame, I “felt” a new sense of freedom, and God enabled me to finally shake off shame. Praise His Name!

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