It’s been said that the two hardest things to say are “I love you,” and “I am sorry.” Yet, the Lord gave us a very simple, practical approach at extending forgiveness and seeking reconciliation (See Matthew 18:15-17). Few things will destroy the soul of man like bitterness. It’s not just damaging to your spiritual health to refuse forgiveness, but it’s damaging to your physical health. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
Could it be that the greatest act of giving you could do this Christmas is the act of forgiving?
Extending forgiveness is something that should be done from the deepest sincerity of our hearts. So often we fake the “I’m sorry” or counterfeit our “I forgive you.” Three things that our vital to any genuine forgiveness are…
Acknowledge Fault – “I was wrong.”
There is a difference between I forgive and I apologize. The word apologize comes from the Greek word for which we get the word apologetics. It means to defend. Often when we say “Don’t worry about it,” or “I apologize,” what we often are really doing is defending ourselves. True forgiveness is acknowledging our fault without defense. Those who are not genuinely sorry for their action will never acknowledge any fault of their own. Maybe you’ve heard some of these insincere apologies:
- I want you to know that I’m not mad at you for what you did. WRONG! This apology shifts all the fault to the other party instead of acknowledging their own.
- I’m sorry that you feel the way you do.” WRONG! Again, this response does not acknowledge fault but rather makes the party feel as if they are completely wrong for how they feel.
- Don’t worry about it. WRONG! Genuine forgiveness says I forgive you whether you’re worried about it or not.
Accept Responsibility – “I am sorry.”
The most prideful of hearts refuse to say I’m sorry. This is the reason why marriages are tense, parents and their children are estranged, and relationships are dissolved, simply because we are not humble enough to say “I’m sorry!” Only the foolish live their lives thinking they’re never at fault or responsible for the conflict that exist. Learn to say “I am sorry!”
Attempt Reconciliation – “Will you forgive me?”
It’s simple really. “I was wrong, I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” Jesus reminded us that the very purpose of forgiveness to reconcile the broken relationship. Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” When you and I forgive we should forgive…
- Freely (with no strings attached)
- Fully (completely and entirely)
- Finally (never to hold it against them)
“I was wrong, I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” Try it. It’s simple. It’s practical. It’s biblical.