13th June 2013

I’m Sorry! 

Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
Luke 17:3-4 (MSG)

The phrase ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’ comes from the 1970’s tearjerker ‘Love Story’ by Erich Segal – and when you’re a teenager, like I was during the 1970’s, it sounded really romantic.  And though I can still happily watch this film today, (the theme music is simply haunting), I don’t agree with its most quoted line. 

I believe love is being able to say you are sorry.  I consider as a Christian we should apologise to people, ie to articulate a verbal regret when it is within our power to do so.  That’s because as Christians, hard as it is sometimes, we need to love people as Christ loved us.  Ephesians 5:2 (NLT) exhorts us to, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” 

Bible translations do not use the word ‘apologise’ though it does contain apologies, eg Stephen (Acts 7) and Paul (Acts 26).  The word apology originates from the Greek word ‘apologia’ meaning ‘a speech in defence’.  Apologetics is the label given to the discipline of defending a position, usually religious. It was later used to denote ‘a frank expression of regret for wrong doing’; specifically in the English language its primary sense is ‘a plea for forgiveness for a wrong act‘, which today we recognise as ‘saying sorryThe word ‘sorry’ dates from the 13th century and comes from Old English meaning ‘distressed or full of sorrow’. 

A word the Bible does use though, is ‘repent’, which is sometimes translated as sorry, eg Genesis 6:6 (KJV) says, “And it repented the Lord that he made man on the earth…” and the NKJV put is, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth…” 

An inextricable part of being human is that throughout life we hurt and offend people.  More often than not it will be those we spend time with most, those who are closest to us, and perhaps those we think we can treat in a way that is unlikely to provoke retaliation, i.e. our spouses, our children, our parents, our work colleagues, fellow Christians or church members. 

Customer Care departments who deal daily with complaints are often told to apologise to a customer because it diffuses their hurt and anger, and can lead them to a place where the complaint can be dealt with more objectively.  So why do many find it so hard to apologise, even when they do actually feel sorry for the pain they’ve caused someone? Is it a matter of pride?  Proverbs 16:18 (NIV UK) tells us, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”, and in 18:12 we read, “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour.”  So is it because it is an admission that we have done something inappropriate and articulating an apology would make this more concrete or indicate weakness?  1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV) says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us all from unrighteousness.” 

Saying sorry is about acknowledging our actions or words were hurtful to another person and taking responsibility for our actions.  Crucially, apologising restores relationships. 

God has paid the ultimate price for us – we are under grace – so does that mean we don’t have to repent any longer?  Of course not!  We need to go to God daily to ask for forgiveness, to say ‘I’m sorry’.

We might be sorry we hurt someone; we might ask God to forgive us for this transgression; we might endeavour not to repeat such offense; but does that mean we shouldn’t apologise?  True repentance is saying we are sorry and changing our behaviour.  Let’s remember Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV), “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” 

We can’t make people say sorry to us—but as Christians we can set the example by being the ones to say we are sorry when we have hurt them. 

Lord, please help me to say sorry to those I hurt either inadvertently or on purpose.

Study by Irene Tibbenham 


irenetibbenhamAbout the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email:  tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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One Response to “13th June 2013”

  1. PHIL Lewis on June 13th, 2013 9:20 am

    Excellent! – now all we need to do is put into practice

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