Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.     ~ Matthew 5:23-34

I have a friend who is struggling emotionally.  I prayed for her and feel she needs an apology from a person in her life who has caused a lot of pain for her and her family.

An apology won’t change the current situation, but it WILL change the emotional state my friend is in and most likely help her to cope better. If she is hurt and feels terribly wronged by someone else, then she needs to hear the other person say, “I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused,” or “I’m sorry things are so difficult for you,” or simply, “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”  An apology from the one who has hurt her might even be the start of healing for their broken relationship.

In the verse above, Jesus tells us that apologizing and reconciling with others is so important that we need to stop what we’re doing and apologize to others right away.  We’re not even to make an offering to God if there is someone who has something against us.

An apology doesn’t have to admit fault or guilt.  It just needs to acknowledge the other person’s feelings…whether the one apologizing agrees with those feelings or not.

Apologizing isn’t about winning or losing an argument.  It’s about showing respect for the other person and what they’re feeling.

I remember a situation between a mother and daughter.  The adult daughter felt wronged by past treatment from her mother.  The mother knew her daughter was upset, but didn’t understand why. The daughter just needed her mother to say she was sorry for the daughter’s pain, but the mother wouldn’t do so because she didn’t agree with her daughter’s feelings, and the mother didn’t want to ‘admit’ to something she didn’t feel she’d done.  Apologies aren’t about that, though!

Apologies aren’t about settling who’s right or wrong, or who’s at fault.  An apology is just saying you’re sorry for the pain, struggle, or whatever the other person is feeling, and often this simple gesture of caring can make a huge difference!

Sometimes it’s hard to go to someone I know is upset and tell them I’m sorry.  I fear the possibility of their angry response.  Sometimes my apology means admitting guilt, and that’s really hard to do!  Sometimes my pride makes it hard to humble myself and offer an apology.  You know what I’ve found helps in each of these situations?  Apologizing to God first.  Two things happen.  1) I know I’ve gone before the Lord, confessed, and that through Christ I’m forgiven…relief!  2) Once I’ve apologized and admitted my faults to God, it’s much easier to do so with the other person.  If the other person gets upset or doesn’t want to forgive, I feel badly about that, but at least I know I’m in right standing with God.  Continue taking the situation to God , and He’ll help each of you work through your situation.

When it comes to apologies, it’s just as important to receive as it is to give.

When someone does apologize, it’s important to graciously receive their apology!  So many times I’ve seen people work up the courage to say they’re sorry to someone who is upset, angry, or hurt, and the other person refuses the apology or says it’s not enough!  Sometimes they even respond angrily with criticisms or lectures.  Whoa!  That’s not right!

Perhaps the other person feels that if they accept the apology, then they’re letting the other person off the proverbial ‘hook’.  Sometimes it can lead to that, but not always.  Accepting an apology means offering forgiveness to the one who apologized, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the situation is resolved and done with.  There still might be consequences that need to follow, but there won’t be a grudge to go along with the consequences.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but it does mean letting go  of hard feelings go so that both parties can move on.

Sometimes we are stubborn and don’t want to forgive because we’re holding onto our anger or unhappiness as a way of punishing the other person, but you know what?  Your feelings aren’t hurting the other person at all.  They’re hurting you!  Sometimes the other person doesn’t even know you’re hurting, angry or upset!  Holding on to negative feelings eats away at us inside, like a cancer of the soul.  Please don’t hold grudges or hold on to negative feelings.  Sometimes we have to offer forgiveness to someone who hasn’t even asked for it.  Yes, sometimes we have to prayerfully go to God and tell Him we forgive, even if no one has asked for our forgiveness.  Christ asked for forgiveness for those who crucified Him as he was being crucified.   And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said, Forgive us our debts/trespasses (sins) as we forgive our debtors/those who have trespassed (sinned) against us.  (Matthew 6:12)

Jesus went on to say, For if you forgive others their trespasses (sins, wrongdoings), your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Matthew 6

There is power in apology, indeed.  Lord Jesus, we thank You for that.  Please help us live by Your example, graciously giving and receiving apologies when needed.  Amen.