Owed an Apology?

We (Christians) are sinners and our flesh is still at enmity with God. Just read through Romans 7 and you will get a good glimpse as to how wretched the justified person actually is:

Romans 7:24-25
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Paul, here, sums up an analytic diatribe which confesses the internal reality the Christian experiences during sanctification (the time between conversion and death or the second advent, whichever comes first). This life, though, is but a temporal opportunity to grow in the Lord, through our sinful, fleshly failures:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

So, let me ask a question. Why do we ask for or even expect apologies from people? Didn’t Christ deal with the elect’s sin on the cross, and won’t Christ deal with the non-elect’s sin at His second coming? Why are we (Christians) expecting or even sometimes demanding apologies when we are to trust that God’s got it? Now, do we owe apologies when we do wrong to others? Of course! We are obligated to always apologize when we wrong others. But, should we expect others to apologize to us when they wrong us? I don’t think so.

I’ve always found these reactions humbling:

Jesus while hanging on the cross:

Luke 23:34
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Stephen while being stoned to death:

Acts 7:59-60
“And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Did Jesus or Stephen expect an apology from their murderers, for being murdered? Nope. Instead, they appealed to God to forgive them.

I must recommend a book which touches upon this topic, written by Pastor RW Glenn, entitled “Crucifying Morality”. Here is a small excerpt from the book on the subject of meekness:

“If you see yourself as a poor, miserable sinner, you will be gentle with others because you understand that they are sinners just like you are (see Hebrews 5:1-3). Even when others mistreat you and wrongly accuse you, you will treat them with gentleness because meekness means that when the accusation has no basis, we will not move to defend ourselves. We do not feel the need to justify ourselves against accusations that amount to little more than personal attacks. We will bear injuries as well. As one Puritan writer says, ‘A meek spirit, like a wet tinder, will not easily take fire,’ and what makes us a “wet tinder” is the deep knowledge that we are as bad as everyone thinks we are: even if that particular attack does not hit the mark precisely, we know what we are capable of, so we do not defend ourselves for our sakes. Rather, when others perceive and then call out our weaknesses and flaws, meekness will drive us to accept accusations with humility. We know that we really are as bad as (if not worse than) they say we are.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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  1. While I agree with the basic premise, I have one caution. While I don’t think that we have the right to demand an apology, we should seek reconciliation. This means talking through the issue. This idea of working through a conflict is so high a priority in Jesus’ mind that in Matt 5:23-24 he recommends stopping in the middle of worship and go be reconciled with someone when you “REMEMBER THAT YOUR BROTHER HAS SOMETHING AGAINST YOU.” Here Jesus puts the initiative on the person doing the wrong, not the one being wronged. Furthermore, reconciliation before worship? Since God is in the ministry of reconciliation, possibly our reconciliation with one another is one of our most profound ways we can worship God.

    I know that more than a few times someone has told me that they have “forgiven” another without discussing it with this person. However, it seemed to me an arrogant statement because the forgiver was (in my opinion as a third party) far more to blame than the person they forgave. I’m sure I’ve done this myself a few times. If we do not work an issue through with a fellow brother or sister, we rob ourselves of learning how to treat people better and/or rob them of the same.

    (P.S. – Nevertheless, this principle of reconciliation should not be abused. I only apply it to what I call medium or large issues. I believe Proverbs is clear that we overlook small issues: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11)


    1. Thanks, Randy. I did make the point that we are to seek to apologize when we have wronged others, yet to be bitter when we have not gotten an apology is wrong.


      1. I am not allowed by judicial decree to communicate with the mother of my children. She got a permanent restraining order against me when she divorced me in a “no-fault” state. After seven years, I married a sister in Christ who does not expect that I can ever be reconciled to the first woman.


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