An apology is a beautiful thing, especially when it’s given to me! But ask me to apologize and I’m just sorry you’re such a sensitive person that what happened hurt you. And I’m sorry you think I did something wrong. My apology is all about you, not about me, because frankly, I don’t do anything wrong, at least not on purpose. If I do anything that offends, hurts, or affects you badly, it’s an “accident.” “I couldn’t help it.” “The road was slick,” “the deadline was too quick,” “the oven was too hot.” Most of my life I’ve never taken blame for my mistakes, blamed the circumstances instead.
After all, if they had been different, then I wouldn’t have made a mistake. But tell you I was wrong, or that I shouldn’t have done what I did? Confess my stupidity or miscalculation to you? Are you crazy?! I can’t bear such humiliation.
How I’ve gone most of my life never apologizing to anyone, instead continually shifting blame to ‘bad conditions,’ is beyond me. But it’s true, and so I confess it now. Confession is a muscle that, with God’s help, I’ve been slowly building up from its atrophied state. So now I ask, “please forgive me for being so self-obsessed,” and confess ignorance on behalf of myself and all the others out there who don’t know how to apologize like a grownup. It’s a familial thing; it runs in our blood. Adam and Eve started it all when they both blamed someone else for their choices, and we continue their example on a daily basis. It’s so ironic, since the Christian faith rests on the power of confession.
We are not truly saved until we confess our sins and our inability to save ourselves. And these sins — and all the others that follow that original confession — are meant not to be hidden away and protected from prying eyes but to be boldly brought out into the open to be examined and prayed over by others who are mature in the faith. The words that best taught me this are found in James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)
Much of my life I have refused the personal insult of confession, in favor of keeping up the charade of my own perfection, all without really knowing confession’s perfecting-power. Salvation is confirmed through confession and repentance to a holy God, but James 5:16 says that healing comes from confessing to one another. It's not only healing for the one who was offended, but even more so for the one who does the confessing.
If you have an area of your life that needs healing, look to confession for that healing. And not the demand for confession from another, but a humble searching of where a habit of sin might have taken root in your life. For me, pride is at the root of my inability to apologize for the simplest of things. Confess it to another, then ask the believer, mature in their faith (“a righteous person”) to pray for you so that you experience the healing God’s word promises. Let’s kill and bury our pride daily and become muscle-bound in the humble and healing ways of apology and confession.
Am I alone? Does anybody else struggle with humility in the area of confession?
For Your Reflection:
Do you respect someone more who quickly and humbly apologizes or one who avoids apology and makes excuses?