“WISDOM OF LIVING (56) APOLOGY”            By Pastor YAU

Text: Matthew 5:23-26                                            February 10, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A hotline: Jesse Jacobs has created an apology hotline that makes it possible for people to call to apologize for what they had said or done wrong without actually talking to the persons whom they had offended. People who are unable or unwilling to unburden their conscience in person called the hotline and leave messages on an answering machine. Each week, dozens of calls are logged as people apologized for things from serious wrongs to embezzlement to just bad attitude or words. “The hotline offers callers a chance to say sorry and alleviate their guilt and, to some degree, to own up their misdeeds,” said Jacobs.

2)   A command: The apology hotline may seem to offer some relief of guilt for some people, but that is not what Jesus instructed his followers when they have wronged someone. In the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus told us to take initiative and go to the offended brother or sister to apologize for the offense. Jesus taught us that the problem of human estrangement is so serious that we should even interrupt our worship to go on a personal mission of making peace. (Matt. 5:24) He encouraged us to acknowledge our wrongs and to reconcile with each other.

 

WHY APOLOGIZE?

1)   It’s commanded by the Lord: In the Scripture reference today, we are commanded, not suggested, to apologize to our brothers or sisters if we know that we have offended them. Of course there is little we can do if we don’t know we have stepped on someone’s toe. But in those cases when we realize we have wronged someone, it is commanded by the Lord that we need to make peace with him/her even to delay our worshipping God. This must be very important for the Lord to command us first to apologize to the brother before we proceed to worship God. Without making peace with your brother, your worshipping God is meaningless.

2)   It’s a sign of being humble: To acknowledge wrong is a good sign of being humble. To stiffen our neck and refuse to apologize is a sign of empty pride and eloquence. On the opposite, to apologize when we acknowledge we have wronged someone is courage and maturity. We have nothing to lose when we sincerely apologize for our wrong and ask for forgiveness.

3)   It’s good for your conscience: God has given us a conscience to know what is good from bad and right from wrong. In most cases we know when we have done something wrong to others and our conscience will carry that burden of wrong until it is alleviated by our sincere apology. Holding guilt feelings for extended period of time can only numb our conscience and burden our peace of mind.

4)   It’s good for relationship: God has created us as social beings. We need each other for a happier life. Sincere apology may break down walls of ill feeling, segregation and even hatred so our relationship with those we have done wrong may be restored or improved. It is always good to maintain cordial relationship with people God has placed around us. It is also a good way to promote Christian harmony.

 

APOLOGY: A GOOD EXAMPLE: (The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-24)

1)   He came to his senses: This means he began to realize his wrong. In some cases, when we have wrong someone unintentionally or in high emotional stage, we seldom realize that we have said or done something wrong or bad. But when we calm down or time has passed, we will come to our senses to realize the wrong we have done. This is the important first step toward sincere apology. We must admit our wrong before we can sincerely apologize. (15:17)

2)   He decided to make it up: (15:18) “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: I have sinned against heaven and against you.” This is his desire and decision to apologize to his father the wrong he has done. This is an important second step: after you realize you have done wrong to someone, you need to have the desire to make it up, to make peace, to apologize to that person in a very humble and sincere way: admit your wrong.

3)   He did what he intended: “So he got up and went to his father.” (15:20)After he decided in his heart it is time to apologize to his father, the son got up and went home to do what he intended to do and he did. (15:21)This is the third important step if you want to express your sincere apology: go and apologize. Don’t just think in your heart. Go and say it to that person with your sincere heart.

4)   He was forgiven: Just read 15:22-24 and you can see what a happy family celebrating the reconciliation and the joy they have in the family and among neighbors. In most cases, when we apologize sincerely, we will be forgiven. In few cases in which you are not immediately forgiven, you have done your part and are free from your burdens of guilt and shame. Allow time for the other person to accept your apology and make peace with you. A sincere apology brings more than peace and joy between the parties, it will also bring peace and joy to others who are in your circle of life: family, friends, colleagues and church.

 

LESSONS FROM JESUS’ WORD: (Matthew 5:23-26)

1)   You need to remember: “Therefore, if you are offering gifts at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you.” (5:23)It is a good practice to forget offense done to you by others. But to the offenses you have done to others, the Lord wants us to remember. Do not take them likely when you did things that hurt others. We are responsible to our actions, especially those that hurt others. Do not pretend or become forgetful the offenses we have done or the hurts we have inflicted on them.

2)   You need to get it right: Just remember the wrongs we have done on others is not enough. We need to take action to make it up with them. “Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go to your brother, then come and offer your gift.” (5:24)Offering gifts to God is an important duty. But making peace with your brother is more important than offering gifts to God. If you are not in peace with people whom you have sinned against, how can you have a peaceful and clear conscience to make peace with God?

3)   You need to do it soon: Procrastination is a bad habit. When you know an apology is due, do it fast to settle the case. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way or he may hand you over to the judge.” (5:25)When you realize you had wronged someone and need to apologize, do it as soon as you can. Time is very important in reconciling with people. We also need to do it in person, not just send an email, a card or through a hotline. Talk to the person if at all possible to say your apology. Personal touch means more than any indirect channel.

4)   You need to do your best: In saying apology, we need to do our very best, utmost sincerity and in a timely manner to have the best results. “I tell you the truth you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (5:26)Jesus wants us to be completely clean from the offense, the guilt and shame. Unless we do our utmost to settle offenses we have done on other, we are liable to them on our guilt and responsibility. Do not wait another day to give apology or you will continue to be guilty in your conscience to God and to your brother.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    It is part of real life: To offend and be offended is part of real life. Since we are all sinners, we will offend others and be offended by others. So, giving and receiving apology is necessary if we want to make things right. Be honest and humble when we have wronged someone. Be ready to give apology when it is due. We also need to be gracious to accept apology from those who have wronged us. Be forgiving and we will be forgiven.

2)    It is a growing process: To give apology is never an easy thing. It involves humility, courage and proper attitude. We need to be nice and sincere when give apology. We also need to do it soon to have the best results. We also need to be gracious to accept apology from those who have wronged us. To forgive and be forgiven is both sides of the same coin.

3)    It is your ticket to heaven: I am talking about apologize to God for all the sins you have committed. Ask Him to forgive you and you will be cleansed from all guilt and shame. He will give you eternal life and the privilege of being His child. This is the most important apology you need to give to be save through your faith in Jesus Christ.