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Saying Sorry

"Apologize to your brother!"

mumbling, “Sorry.”

The child apologizing either doesn’t really understand what they did wrong or doesn’t care. The apology certainly isn’t sincere, and everyone knows it.

As a parent, we have a vested interest in demanding such apologies in the hope of teaching our children the value of owning up to their wrongdoings.

But generally, apologies should be between the involved individuals.

Politicians are the master of the public non-apology apology. “I didn’t say what you think I said, and I apologize if that’s what you mistakenly heard.”

And forgiveness should be between the involved individuals.

“I think when someone apologizes, then they should be forgiven.” This statement was made in response to a non-apology apology made in the House of Representatives recently.

The Bible doesn’t talk about apologies; it talks about repentance. That word carries so much more weight.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg has written and talked about forgiveness, atonement, and repentance.

"There are specific steps to repentance work: 1) owning the harm perpetrated (ideally publicly); 2) do the work to become the kind of person who doesn't do harm (which requires a ton of inner work) 3) make restitution for harm done, in whatever way possible. 4) THEN apologize for the harm caused in whatever way that will make it as right as possible with the victim 5) when faced with the opportunity to cause similar harm in the future, make a better choice.

"...A public apology doesn't prove the inner work has happened ... Frankly, jumping back into the spotlight at the first opportunity raises suspicions abt where their focus is."

"Forgiveness is up the victim (and the victim alone). Atonement is up to God. It is not up to us, curious third parties waiting to be entertained, to make the determination re: whether that person is or should be forgiven or absolved. It's not our place."

She further notes that apologies and forgiveness are separate events. The victim never has to forgive, no matter how sincere the apology. But it's the victim's choice. (Twitter thread, July 2018)

The Bible tells us to repent. "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20)

Not "whoops, my bad." Repent. Own the harm, become a better person, make restitution, THEN apologize. And make better choices next time.

Jesus called on us to repent and to be forgiven by God. “He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’” (Luke 24:46-48)

The Individual Confession and Forgiveness service that is part of the Lutheran church says:

"I repent of all my sins, known and unknown.

I am truly sorry, and I pray for forgiveness.

I firmly intend to amend my life,

and to seek help in mending what is broken.

I ask for strength to turn from sin

and to serve you in newness of life."

Response: "By water and the Holy Spirit, God gives you a new birth, and through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives you all your sins. Almighty God strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in eternal life."

“Sorry” should be more than a word, it should be a change in life.

- Ann Iona Warner


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