Where is My Apology?


If someone is mean to me, do they owe me an apology? Growing up, I remember that particular lesson well. If I was mean or hurtful to someone, then I was told that I “owed them an apology.” So apologizing to others is pretty well ingrained in me as good behavior and even better manners, but is it applicable to life as a disciple of Christ?

Did Jesus ask the disciples for an apology?

Did Jesus ask the disciples for an apology?
I can’t recall a single time that Jesus prompted the disciples to give an apology, either to each other or to others. You’d think if He was going to ask for an apology, He’d ask Peter for one after he denied Jesus three times. Nope. He didn’t ask for an apology; He asked Peter if he loved Him instead—and He asked him three times.

Fair enough, so maybe apologies aren’t needed between Jesus and His followers. What about other people then? Once again, Peter provided a pretty perfect opportunity for Jesus to ask him to apologize when he cut off the soldier’s ear. Jesus made Peter stop fighting, and He put the ear back on and healed the soldier, but He didn’t ask Peter to apologize. What does that say about apologies? Does it say anything at all?

Apology vs. Repentance

Apology vs. Repentance
I don’t think that asking for an apology is necessarily a bad thing; that’s not where I’m going with this. In fact, there might be wisdom in asking a child to apologize when they’re mean or hurtful to someone else, because children are not naturally empathetic. Quite the opposite. I do think that apologizing is the world’s answer to repentance. An apology is a basic acknowledgment of the existence of another person and the hurt they’ve experienced at your hands. That’s all.

I can apologize all day long and never change. I can say ‘I’m sorry’ until I lose my voice and never actually experience so much as a twinge in my conscience. An apology is not indicative of repentance, and it’s repentance that Jesus called for again and again.

Repentance is a heart transaction and a shift in thinking and perception. You can’t fake repentance because the fruit will tell on you every time. If it’s fake, it isn’t repentance. An apology can be the fruit of repentance, but it’s not the only fruit, and if Jesus’ priorities are any indication, it’s not the most important by any means.

Do I have an ingrained demand for an apology when someone wrongs me? I think that I do. And I think that my demand has to be confessed and then surrendered. It’s a demand of my flesh, not a call in my spirit. Which is more important to me: a person’s repentance and reconciliation to God, or a person’s acknowledgment of my personhood and my pain? Until the answer is the first, all day long, then I’m not finished with the Gethsemane work of surrender.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

Exit question: If I lay down and surrender my demand for an apology, which is a demonic restraint on another, do I then free my persecutor to see me and acknowledge my pain?

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7 years ago

I also think that offense and judgment can come when we expect an apology. We can choose to feel/be offended if one disregards or refuses to own their attack (or thoughtlessness even). And we in turn can take the gavel and condemn them hateful /cruel (even inconsiderate). Help us Lord as we are crucified with you, to live from our true identity in You; allowing You to turn the other check and suffer long in us! I’ve gotten stuck in the weeds so often, hurt and unable to stay in a productive place of prayer for someone because of this.… Read more »

7 years ago

This may not be the point of this blog, but as one who works with 3/4 year olds on a daily basis I’ve often asked myself about forcing them to apologize. If children aren’t “naturally empathetic” as you say Jen, then why do we as adults force them to act out an apology? Why do we not explain to them as you have here “An apology is a basic…” and then ask them if they want to apologize? Side note: It is truly amazing to see the way the Father develops the gifting He created in each little one. There… Read more »

7 years ago

But did God not see the whole thing and do I not believe He is in control?

7 years ago

Never thought about Jesus never asking for or requesting an apology,but more importantly for me, I too have ingrained demand for one when I am wronged. This isn’t a pretty picture……..but the one you painted: the truth that my spirit is not fully surrendered, that it is a demonic restraint on another. I am without excuse, so I will seek true and complete repentance for my sin.
Bless you and thank you for revealing HIS heart through your honesty.

7 years ago

Oh… welllll. So well pinpointed, Jennifer. Forgiveness and repentance is not an apology. It is dying for that person that wronged me.

That is exactly what it means “loving each other as I have loved you”.

Others do it with me… and I do it with others. That’s church I guess…

7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

“As I have loved you”. You hit the Nail on the head Sam! Thank you Jennifer! Sue I had never noticed that either.