When People Refuse to Apologize

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By Daniel Darling

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:5-6 "who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

“You will never get that from them.” The words of a friend who was discussing a situation I encountered where someone honestly wronged me. “They won’t say sorry, guaranteed.”

Sad commentary about people who refuse to say sorry. Its funny, but how many disputes in families, churches, businesses, governments—could be diffused by two simple words, “I’m sorry.”

Sometimes I’m the guy who doesn’t say sorry. I stand my ground against my wife, insisting I’m right. And my rightness continues to do damage to our relationship. And at the end of it all, a little voice whispers and says, “Was that really worth it?”

It wasn’t. It wasn’t worth it at all. And so sheepishly I have to crawl back and say to Anegla, “I’m sorry.”

I’ve had to do that as a pastor so many times in these two years of ministry I can’t count them on both hands and feet. There are even sometimes when you could legitimately say that you did nothing wrong. And yet to win back a friend, you stand up and say, “Look, I’m sorry. Can we move on?”

The problem is that we live in a culture that says, “Don’t say sorry.” We think apologies are lame, that they weaken our leadership. But I think humility strengthens our leadership.

This isn’t suggesting we be passive doormats. Of course not. But a little humility goes a long way.

But what happens if you’re wronged that person doesn’t say sorry. What happens if that hurt in your heart is never soothed by contrition on the other side?

The easy thing to do, the human thing to do, is to get mad, to lash out, to use your hurt as an excuse to act unchristian. But then you’re no better than your perpetrator, are you?

What do you do when someone won’t say sorry? You forgive, like Jesus forgave. You’re sorry may never come. There may never be a day when that person steps forward and admits their wrong and asks for your forgiveness. And the reality of this chafes at us like nothing else.

But it can embitter us. Don’t be. Move on, cast your burden to the Lord. Live on Higher Ground. And do this as I have done, pray that God will extend the same grace to your perpetrator that you wish Him to extend to you.

Then resolve to be a person of humility, who steps forward and says without reservation, when necessary, “I’m sorry.”

Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the Bible by New Hope Publishers.

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