TEXT: Genesis 50:17-18
“who is he that I should say sorry to? A whole me, as old as I am, I should apologize to this boy who is not even up to the age of my last child? Impossible. That’s the last thing I’ll ever say.”
AIM: The aim of this short sermon is encourage us all, young and old, man and woman, everyone to learn to always say “I am sorry” to anyone we offend and to mean it when we say it.
WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY “I AM SORRY”?
When we say those three words, it means we are telling someone that we are ashamed or unhappy about something that we have done that has hurt or upset the person.
Now, I see family members refusing to talk to each other for years after an argument just because neither side wants to be the first to let go of their pride and “break down and apologize.” But who decided apologizing was a sign of weakness?
I learned this the hard way with a childhood friend of mine. As we grew older, we started becoming more competitive in the things we did together, and eventually the playful competition went a little too far.
It became a game of silently trying to prove who was better, and we ended up hurting each other over our pride.
We refused to apologize or even address what was going on because neither wanted to be the one to “give in.”
The tension kept growing, breaking apart our friendship. I wish I could go back now, because if I had taken responsibility for the mistakes I made, we probably could have resolved it easily and saved our friendship.
Instead, I let my pride take priority over my relationship with my friend.
It seems so silly, really. I mean, it’s only two tiny words. How can something so small be so powerful?
Well, there have been various scientific studies on the power of apologizing, which have demonstrated that when the victim receives an apology from his offender, he develops empathy toward that person, which later develops more quickly into forgiveness.
This is due to the fact that when we receive an apology, we feel that our offender recognizes our pain and is willing to help us heal.
Timing is an important aspect to keep in mind, as well, because sometimes the other person might not be ready to accept your apology. Sometimes we need to allow time to heal the wounds a little bit before we come forward to say “I’m sorry.”
FOUR ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE BIBLICAL APOLOGY.
1. REMORSE AND REGRET
The starting place for a biblical apology is expressing remorse and regret. When our actions hurt people, the injured party needs to know that we are remorseful—that we can identify with their injury.
We can encapsulate this principle in three simple words: “I am sorry.” Saying these words can go a long way in healing another’s heart.
It is impossible to miss David’s remorse over his actions: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:2–3). David was truly sorry for what he had done, and he wanted God to know it. He recognized his actions hurt others, and he sincerely acknowledged that to the Lord.
An apology cannot stand alone, though. It must be coupled with true contrition. It was David’s words spoken with humility that God took notice of in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” A flippant apology only adds to the damage. It is a second insult. An injured party does not want to be compensated because they have been wronged; they want to be healed because they have been hurt. Only a sincere apology can heal the hurting. It is important that we do not offer excuses for our actions, that we ask nothing in return, and that we are specific in our apology.
It may not be enough to simply say, “I am sorry.” The offended party is healed by hearing that you know specifically what you did that hurt them. If you lost your temper with someone and said hurtful words to them, your apology needs to recognize this. It would sound something like this: “I am sorry for losing my temper today and saying things I should not have said. I realize my words were hurtful, and that is not the kind of person I want to be.” Expressing remorse with a contrite spirit is something we all need to learn to do.
The second component of an effective biblical apology is encapsulated in saying the three most difficult words known to mankind: “I was wrong.” These words take us beyond remorse to responsibility.
David not only was remorseful for what he had done, but he also accepted full responsibility for his actions. He said in Psalm 51:3, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” David acknowledged his sins and admitted they deserved judgment.
This step is vital. The admission of failure holds the potential to bring true change in our hearts. Saying “I was wrong” takes courage because we are afraid of what the admission of guilt will bring. But leaving outcomes up to God is an important part of growing up in Christ. Admitting guilt also requires humility, trust in the Lord, and maturity. It is a function of integrity—admitting I am not the person I want to be, but I am still trying to get there.
The third step in offering an effective biblical apology is learning to say, “Will you forgive me?” Expressing remorse communicates that you understand you hurt someone. Admitting that you were wrong is owning responsibility. But saying “Will you forgive me?” brings reconciliation. Years ago I learned that when I had offended my wife, in order for her heart to fully rest again, it helped her to hear me ask if she would forgive me. This is because these words are more than a question; they are also a statement. They say to the offended party, “Iwant our relationship to be restored; you are important to me; and my pride will not stand in the way of my love for you.”
One of life’s greatest failures is not admitting that you have failed. No one has ever choked to death on the words, “I am sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”
David cried out for reconciliation to God when he asked the Lord not to cast him away from His presence. His relationship with God was more important than anything else in his life.
The first three components could be communicated with words, but this fourth component is an action. True repentance is the final component to an effective biblical apology. It will never be enough to simply apologize. As sinful and dangerous people, we also need to change. Repenting not only recognizes that what we did was wrong, but it also expresses a desire to do right.
We owe it to the people we love to be at our best for them. An apology is a desire to continue growing. It is the best way to keep a contrite heart and not be at odds with the Lord. An apology is required to safeguard the important relationships in our lives, and it is necessary to do what’s right!
WHO SHOULD SAY “I AM SORRY?”
Everyone should be say those three words when they offend someone. It does not matter who the person you offended is, his age, status in life, etc.
The husband should be able to say it if he offends the wife. The wife should be able to say it if she offends the husband. The parents should say it if they offend the children. The children should say it if they offend the parents. The master should say it to the servant and the servant likewise to the master. An elder should say it to the younger one he offends and the younger one likewise to the elderly.
Sometimes we might offend or sin against friends and family, and if this happens Christians are to confess our sins to God, and apologize to that person. Everything we do must be sincere. A true friend would fix their relationship with others and pray for others instead of keeping pride and stubbornness in their hearts.
Don’t let guilt linger in your heart. Go apologize, say I’m sorry, and make things right.
Sometimes people don’t even realize the hurt they are creating around them by failing to take responsibility for their actions. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s someone you know, but everyone knows someone who has suffered from this at some time.
Now is the time to make a change.
Often times those two simple words are worth more than a lifetime of excuses and explanations.
Choose the path of humility. Choose the path of healing. Choose love above pride. Choose to say “I AM SORRY”
SERMON DELIVERED BY BRO GODWIN ANTAI AND BRO NICHOLAS EDU
DATE: 19TH MAY, 2019