A Genuine Apology
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Who among us, when we've been wounded by another person, has not desired to hear a sincere apology?  Words such as "I did wrongly, I know that I hurt you, and I'm truly sorry" meet the criteria of an "apology" as defined by Webster: A regretful acknowledgment of a fault or offense."

Yet many of us stumble when it is our turn to apologize, when through our own anger, self-centeredness, or insensitivity, we have hurt someone else.  Our pride binds our heart and blocks our tongue from humbling ourselves to the offended party. We tend to think defensive and self-justifying thoughts:  "It was no big deal." We may get some words out--"I'm sorry, please forgive me"--but they sound more like "There, I said it; now you have to forgive me; now forget it, and get over it!"

A genuine apology is not the end of the matter but the beginning.  It opens the door for healing and reconciliation.  The offense broke the relationship.  It isn't enough for the offender to ask for and receive forgiveness from the offended.  [In fact, many times, the injured party, out of love for and obedience to Jesus, has already forgiven before the offender asks].  That forgiveness removes the guilt from the offender, but in and of itself it does not restore the relationship.

Reconciliation and healing begin as the one who caused the offense sees and accepts responsibility for the hurt and harm it produced.  The apology starts the process of opening himself to hear and understand what the other has gone through, to manifest genuine care, concern, and sympathy, and to be changed so that the offense wont occur again.  This work of humility overcomes defensiveness and ushers in healing, restitution, and restoration both to the offended person and to the relationship.

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