We all have either apologized to someone or had someone to apologize to us. However, there are genuine apologies and those that are less than genuine (Cloaked in words to sound like an apology when in reality they mean little to nothing). So let’s consider what a real, genuine, heart-felt apology sounds like. First, the Scripture…
1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2 Cor 7:9 I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!
In 1 John “confess” means to agree with. Thus confessing sin is not telling God we’re sorry for what we’ve done… it is agreeing with God that what we did was wrong. There is a big difference. Agreeing with God means saying to God with 100% honesty, “What I did was wrong and I broke your will and command.” This is the foundation for apologizing to others.
When we apologize to a person, our words should sound something like this, “I was wrong when I gossiped about you,” or “I was wrong to have treated you with contempt,” or “I was wrong to have stolen money from you,” or “I was wrong to have committed adultery against you,” or “I was wrong to have gotten you fired from your job,” or… well… you get the point. A genuine apology will verbalize the transgression to the one wronged.
THEN the result of admitting a failure is to right the wrong that was committed as found in 2 Cor 7:9-11. Every time a person really believes and knows that they sinned against another person, they WILL do whatever it takes… for as long as it takes… to make things right. See 2 Cor 7:11. If a person isn’t willing to DO what it takes to make things right, they haven’t apologized and don’t really believe they are wrong.
Just saying, “I’m sorry,” or “Will you forgive me?” isn’t in line with the Scripture. It falls way short of what a genuine, Biblical apology really is. So what does a genuine apology look and sound like? I’m glad you asked…
First, with the apology there will be emotional brokenness and a contrite spirit.
Second, in the apology the person will name their transgression and agree that what they did was wrong.
Third, with the apology there will be a submission and readiness to do whatever it takes to make thing right. Get that clear… they will do whatever it takes to make things right. And here is where the rubber will meet the road!
These things will come naturally from the individual who has sinned against you! You won’t have to give them an outline… you won’t have to require these things of them… they will do them on their own. I say that because, as Paul wrote in 2 Cor 7:11, “… see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you.” Their repentance, apology, and making things right will not have to be imposed on them, it will come from within them. They will WANT to do it themselves (CLICK HERE).
Now… how do OUR apologies measure up?