"I'm sorry!" - Two of the most powerful words we could ever speak to each other; yet, for many, uttering these simple, two little words is virtually impossible. Why is this? Perhaps pride, self preservation, justification or even neglect play a part in our "reasons" for avoiding these freeing words.
Though these words have the potential to change the course of our lives - to the glory of God - in a profound way, so often we become paralyzed by the lie of the enemy, thinking that we somehow give permission for the offense when we forgive. It's like we have an invisible muzzle on our mouth that restricts us from saying what we know is needed to restore relationships and, more importantly, to restore our relationship with our heavenly Father.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been busy at work, trying to create division between mankind. He knows that strife and unforgiveness open the door to a long list of hardships, really curses, that we bring upon ourselves as we refuse to humble ourselves to break these barriers by simply saying, "I'm sorry." Instead, we often create prisons in our own mind that hinder us from the good plans that God has for us. The master deceiver knows that if he can just get us to either offend someone or get us offended by the actions or words of another, he can slither his way into the depths of our soul (our mind, will and emotions), causing us to sin against God.
Unforgiveness is sin! It can lead us down the haunted road of bitterness, resentment, anger, rage and, ultimately, retaliation if not purged through humility and forgiveness. This path of self destruction brings further guilt and separation from the goodness of the Lord, while causing a whole new set of problems in our lives.
The Word of God is very clear about the importance of an apology. Mark 11:25-26 says, we should not even begin to pray to the Lord until we have forgiven those who have offended us. This passage goes on to say that we must forgive others... if we expect God to forgive us! Then again, in Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says we should go and make things right with our brother (or sister) before we take our offering to the Lord. Clearly, God has no respect for offerings that we give out of a desire to make ourselves "feel" better. Trying to hide, or cover up, our unforgiving, true spirit from the Lord is futile. Our offerings to Him should go forth with no shame. We should give to Him out of a clean heart.
Albeit difficult, deep in our conscious we each know it is our job to be the first to say I'm sorry whenever we have offended someone. But, what do we do when the tables are turned, and someone has offended us? Our actions should ultimately be the same, whether the offense is created by someone else or by us. As a Child of the King, we should have a deep desire to keep our hearts clean by letting go of those things that were sent by the devil to destroy us. Granted, the person who offended us may not even know that they did so; still, we need to be quick to bring things out into the open in a loving way and then simply say, "I'm sorry."
It doesn't always seem fair. Certainly, it doesn't seem natural. But, one thing is for sure, everything in God's Kingdom is hinged on LOVE. Our job is to walk in love. His job is to bring freedom, restoration, and favor to our lives as we obey His word by "doing" His will. The scriptures say that "obedience is better than sacrifice." Learning to be obedient by simply learning the art of a humble apology is of great price in the Lord's eye's.
Now, there are those who will say, "I'm sorry, but _______." Friend, that is not a godly apology. What you are really saying is, "I'm trying to obey God by apologizing to you, but I really don't forgive you and I really don't feel that I should have to apologize to you." You are probably thinking to yourself, "So what is wrong with that? I can't help the way I feel. Right?"
Perhaps, that is the way you feel at the present time. But, as you "choose" to freely forgive without any attachments, you are cutting the chains that bind you to a life of bitterness. You are leaving the response up to the other person and therefore releasing yourself of all of the responsibility of that sin. What they choose to do with your apology is between them and God. You are placing the ball in their court and raising your hands in worship to the King of Glory! Your feelings will line up with your actions once you determine to do what is commanded in God's word.
It sounds crazy, I know, but God's principles are pretty radical. Supernatural things happen when we follow His directions for our lives. He makes crooked things - straight. He makes closed doors - open. He makes depression - turn to joy. He gives LIFE! All we have to do is trust Him... and "do" what He says.
One other scenario I'd like to address in this article concerning an apology is this: Saying I'm sorry does not necessarily mean you need to hang around that person. You can forgive someone and make peace with them, yet, let them go. This is not God's ultimate desire, but sometimes it is necessary in order for you to live your life free from future offenses and free from further conflicts. In every apology, try to bring with it restoration; but, if that is impossible, walk in freedom knowing that you have released all negative thoughts and emotions concerning your relationship with that person. Decide to love them in spite your differences. Pray for their well being.
"I'm sorry!" - Two words that seem harder to birth than a 20 pound baby. Yet, these powerful two words can - and will - change the course of your life, bring favor, and set you free to LIVE a life abundant in Christ Jesus! Now, go... forgive, and be blessed!
Deborah Ross is an international evangelist, speaker, author, singer and choreographer. She is the mother of two teen-aged sons and the wife of Jay Ross since 1984. Her new book, Healing a Broken Marriage, is available now through bookstores and on-line. Deborah Ross is available for speaking engagements and can be contacted through her website at www.DeborahRossMinistries.org.