¡°SAY SORRY, PLEASE!¡± By Pastor YAU
Matthew 5:23-26; 1 John 1:8-9.
1) A modern day mess-up: Jeff messed up. He arrived an hour late at a restaurant where he was to meet a friend from his church. The friend has already left. Feeling sorry about his mistake, Mark purchased a gift card from that restaurant and stopped by a card shop to search for an apology card. Among hundreds of cards for countless occasions, he was surprised to find only a few ¡°sorry for my actions¡± cards in an obscure part of the racks. He bought one, wrote words of apology, mailed the card to his friend and his friend accepted his apology. They remained good friends.
2) An ancient day mess-up: Although apology cards may not be popular, apologies are frequently needed in our relationships. Apologizing is a biblical action. Jesus instructed us to make things right with those we¡¯ve offended (Matt -24; -20). Apostle Paul said, ¡°If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably will all.¡± (Rom. ) To have peace with others, apology or say sorry may be necessary.
WHY IT¡¯S SO HARD TO SAY SORRY? Too many to list
1) Because I am not wrong: This is by far the primary reason we won¡¯t say sorry to someone who was offended, or felt offended. In most cases, we hold different position from that of the other person and we don¡¯t see the need to apologize when we insist on our position that has caused hurt to the other person. When we take our position as the right one, regardless of if it is truly right, most of us won¡¯t see the need to say sorry.
2) We don¡¯t feel the hurt: If Mark didn¡¯t see or feel that he has offended and hurt his friend because of his mistake, I bet he won¡¯t to anything to mend the relationship. Many times we don¡¯t see or feel the hurt we have inflicted on others by our words or actions, the natural things is we don¡¯t think we need to do anything.
3) We take family for granted: The kind of insensitivity happens mostly to people who are close to us, mostly people in our family. But this is a serious mistake because we take it for granted to hurt someone in the family and don¡¯t feel anything: we are taking advantage of our loved ones because they love us not to mind our careless or mindless mistakes. If we carry this lousy habit into our life outside of the family, we can certainly mess up our relationship with others at work, at school or at church.
4) We are too proud to apologize: Pride is the biggest blockage to say sorry to those whom we¡¯ve offended. Saying sorry is to admit wrong or fault on our part and to some it is so hard to do that. Many broken relationships started from a small or insignificant mistake. But when the offender refused to admit wrong or even accused the other side of being over sensitive, things could spiral into a no-return situation beyond repair.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE TO A BROTHER? (Matt 5:23-26)
1) To apologize is a godly act: ¡°Therefore, if you are offering your sacrifice at the altar.¡± (5:23a) Offering sacrifices was a godly act for the Israelis. It is a sign of a close relationship between God and His people. The teaching of Jesus focused on that sacred moment to remember the offence of one man to another showed us that to set the records straight with someone whom we¡¯ve offended is a very serious and godly act as that of offering sacrifices to God. Often times, we see making peace with God far more important than making peace with men and it may be so. But Jesus wants us to know that even at that moment, we are to think of our relationship with people. Just as His teaching us to love God and love our fellow brothers, we are also asked to make peace with men as important as making peace with God.
2) To apologize is to be sensitive: ¡°There remember that your brother has something against you.¡± (5:23b) How often we think of our offences when we are in worship service? How often we realize what have we done to hurt others when we are doing our devotional? That is exactly what Jesus meant: we need to be sensitive to the hurts we may have inflicted on our brothers even at the very moment when we seek God, worship God. Most of us are very sensitive when someone offends us in words or action, either intentionally or unintentionally. To that we may never forgive nor forget about them. But Jesus wants us to be sensitive to our own actions or words that may have offended others, people at home, at school, at work or even in the church.
3) To apologize is to reconcile: ¡°Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.¡± ()An offence is like a due or a debt we owe the victim of our wrongdoing. Some of us don¡¯t feel or see it that way, but it is. We need to be sincere to reconcile with our victims. Don¡¯t do it grudgingly or angrily but both honestly and sincerely. Jesus wants us to know that reconciling with our victims is more important than reconciling with God even with our best gifts. It is not the gift; it is the heart to seek peace.
4) To apologize is mandatory: ¡°I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.¡± ()Few of us see our offences to others as debts we have to settle and pay in full in order to get clean. Some have interpreted this as part of God¡¯s demands on salvation but that is not true because salvation is all free gift of God. But this sentence certainly shows us God¡¯s demand for us to settle our account, our debt, to those whom we have offended just as a debt we owe someone. To apologize for our offence is not an option but a duty God demands us to do. We may be reluctant or unwilling but God is watching in this.
HOW TO APOLOGIZE TO GOD? (1 John 1:8-10)
1) First, we can¡¯t lie to self: ¡°If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves.¡± (1:8a) Just as we don¡¯t recognize we have done wrong to our brother, here we don¡¯t recognize to have done wrong to God, both are unacceptable to man and to God. Forgiveness of God begins at our sincere and honest admission of guilt or sin. If we are truly seeking God¡¯s for forgiveness of our sins, we need to admit we have sinned. John further said, ¡°If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out of a liar.¡± ()Who can and dare to make God a liar by insisting he has not sinned?
2) Second. We need to face the truth: ¡°And the truth is not in us... and his word has no place in our lives.¡± (1:8b, 10b) ¡°The truth¡± may refer to ¡°the facts¡± and ¡°his word¡± certainly refers to the Bible. Both the facts of our lives and the Bible reveal that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. ) If we are honest won¡¯t lie to ourselves we know we have sinned against God and others all through our lives. We often feel sad and disgusting to see criminals plead not guilty in obvious cases in court. How much worse if we also claim not sin in the face of God and the Bible. We need to be responsible for our sins in order to make peace with God.
3) Then, we are to confess our sins: ¡°If we confess our sins.¡± (1:9a) ¡°Confess¡± in Greek is homologomen, from homos, like, in favor of, and logos, the word or the truth. So, to confess is like the truth, or tell the truth. So confessing our sins is not writing a thesis or article or a story. It is just telling what it exactly is in our lives, our sinful acts and thoughts and inclinations. (Gen. 6:5) That is what God wants each of us to do, be honest, be sincere, be right on the target, tell the truth.
4) Finally, we are forgiven of our sins: ¡°He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.¡± (1:9b)When we do the right thing, confess our sins, God is more faithful to keep his promise to forgive our sins and purify us, cleanse us, from all our past unrighteousness. God did more than just forgive, He will cleanse us as white as now because all our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. All the offences are wiped out, debts are paid in full and relationship with God is fully restored. Can you afford not to confess sins? If you still hesitate in this, you will miss the boat forever.
1) The power of ¡°I am sorry!¡± No other words may come close to heal the wounds we may have inflicted on others and restore the fractured relationship than these three little words if we say them sincerely, honestly and mean what we say. It is very important for all of us to be humble and sincere to admit our wrong when admission is due. Trying to be tough skin, arrogant and proud is just another sure way to destroy relationships and be isolated by people around. Saying ¡°I am sorry!¡± is never a sign of weakness but on the contrary greatness in character.
2) The power of ¡°Forgive me, Lord!¡± As Peter confessed that he was a sinner in Luke 5:8, we also need to confess our sins and seek forgiveness from God. There is no other way anyone may do for his sins to be forgiven except to tell the truth and receive cleansing and purification from God to make peace with God. It is never too late to take this step today if you haven¡¯t done this before. God¡¯s grace is sufficient for all our sins no matter how serious they may be. The Lord Jesus has extended an invitation to all of us: ¡°Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.¡± (Matt 11:8) Again, He assured us of his full acceptance, ¡°All that my Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.¡± (John 6:37) It is time to confess and come home.