I recently watched a sitcom where a group of highly dysfunctional people decided they were going to make amends with the people they had wronged over the course of 9 seasons of shenanigans. Deciding that Thanksgiving was the best time to do this, they invited these wronged people over and ridiculousness ensued. One person in the gang, who has an affection for paperwork, drafted up a peace treaty that he wanted everyone to sign, indicating that the group was absolved of their wrongs and the “beefs” were permanently settled. One person who had been wronged says that he will sign the treaty when he’s gotten restitution for what had been taken from him or, at the very least, an apology, to which the group staunchly refuses. The episode continues on like this until Thanksgiving is ruined and the apartment is accidentally set on fire with all those who were wrong trapped inside.
While I was watching this, I couldn’t help but think about how bad we are at apologies. How often have we tried apologizing to someone but just ended up skirting around the issue, too afraid or proud to admit any guilt? I know that I’ve done this and it’s been done to me before.
When I was still teaching, I would constantly have to talk with the kids about how to make apologies. It would always go a little something like this: one kid would come running up to me, complaining about something that someone else had done to them. Then I would call the other child over and ask them what happened. Eventually, I’d get to the truth and would instruct the child who had wronged the other to apologize. Usually this was met with a casual “sorry”, to which I would reply “sorry for what?” and they would specifically detail the action for which they were apologizing. I wouldn’t go through this whole process just for fun, but to help the kids understand a little bit about what taking responsibility looks like.
But this is a lesson that’s so easily forgotten as adults. I know I consistently fail at this. Yet, if we are indeed lovers and followers of Christ, shouldn’t we be the best at apologizing, making amends, and settling beefs?
I’m not going to lie, I just cringed while typing that sentence. It stings a little bit. I don’t like apologizing and admitting wrong and I surely don’t like forgiving people after they’ve hurt me. Settling beefs always sounds like a great idea until it actually comes down to doing it. The relief felt after a resolution has been made is incredible, but getting there isn’t always the easiest. Yet, we’re still called to do so.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Wow! Those are some weighty verses. I encourage you to go back and reread those and let the weight of the words sink in. Take a few moments to meditate on what these important verses are saying.
These verses always help me to keep things in perspective. I know it’s a little easier for me to forgive others when I remember how much I’ve been forgiven of. There was nothing good about me in my sinful state, yet he loved and chose me. I hurt so many people before I met Jesus, some intentionally and many unintentionally, yet those things have been forgiven. Wow! Who am I not to forgive?
Settling beefs isn’t easy. Apologizing is uncomfortable. Forgiving others is hard work and something we have to do over and over again. I wish it were as easy as absolving someone because a peace treaty has been signed, but it’s not. Yet, we’re called to make amends and forgive as we’ve been forgiven. I’m not writing this to condemn you or make you feel guilty, I struggle with this topic more than I can express to you. But I’m writing this because I believe we, as Christians, have a beautiful opportunity to set ourselves apart and look more like Jesus in the area of forgiveness. We don’t have to get it right 100% of the time, we’re not perfect, but, because we love Him, we can strive to be more like Him every day.