Anyone who’s been around the church for any length of time will no doubt be able to recall a time when they were hurt by a fellow Christian. It’s not something that we ever expect to happen among those that are called to love even their enemies, but when we’re dealing with fallen human beings it is inevitable.
But what’s more troubling is that there seems to be a vital component in human relationships today that is utterly lost, and sadly, it’s even missing from those relationships within the Body of Christ. What I am speaking of is our inability and unwillingness to say the two hardest words in the human language: “I’m sorry.”
It’s amazing when you think of it. “I’m sorry” struggles violently to be liberated from our mouths while almost anything and everything else we say flows off our tongues without any restraint whatsoever (and is often the impetus behind many of our reasons we need to say sorry).
We are quick to displace blame, justify our actions, or simply ignore the hurt that we’ve caused another, but consider how much progress could be made in our relationships if we would simply bring ourselves to sincerely utter those two humbling words. And oh, how the gospel of Jesus Christ would be beautifully displayed.
The refusal to admit wrong is a burden that both parties have to bear. The wrongdoer for their wrong that has gone unconfessed, and the one wronged who now struggles to remain forgiving toward the wrongdoer and fights vigilantly to prevent animosity and bitterness from taking root in their hearts against the wrongdoer for not only the wrong, but also for the wrongdoer’s refusal to simply say that they’re sorry.
The wrongdoer may be able to sear their conscience enough to move on after the incident as if nothing happened, but the one wronged has to not only forgive the one who wronged them, but will spend a lot of time guarding themselves from the bitterness and resentment that will be ever-creeping at the door of their heart because the one at fault simply will not say, “I’m sorry.”
Ingrid Schlueter wrote a poignant piece on this very subject entitled I’m Sorry. Here’s an excerpt from her blog article (which I highly recommend):
“The words ‘I’m sorry’ when said honestly are the most healing in the human language. It seems sometimes like I spend an inordinate amount of time having to use those words for one reason or another. But I’m not sorry about that. Relations among professing Christians are in a shameful state because so few can bring themselves to say it and mean it. So unresolved issues lie there like rotting corpses, bringing a spiritual stumbling block to the offended, and a hindrance between God and the unrepentant offender.”
Is there someone you have offended or hurt (it does not matter whether they are a fellow believer or not) that you still have not told that you’re sorry or asked forgiveness of? If so, before you do anything else, humble yourself and do what needs to be done.
If you don’t know of anyone you need to ask forgiveness from, then seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you if there is someone that you’ve hurt and didn’t realize it, then go and make it right.
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35