Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Sincere Apologies…

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23, 24

The dish of candy was there on the lamp table beside the couch, and I had been raiding it regularly during my visit at a family member’s house.  After dinner one evening, I turned to fetch another bite of candy and carelessly knocked the dish off onto the carpeted floor next to the table.  My heart stopped.  I first picked up the lid and was comforted to find it had not shattered.  Next I reached for the bottom bowl.  It seemed to be intact…that is, until I examined the underside.  There were three crystal feet that the bowl rested upon, and one had been broken off.  After a hurried search, I found it.  I felt awful.  I had broken the dish.

I carried the dish and its broken part to my family member and confessed to the crime.  Her countenance fell.  The candy dish had been a gift to her from her sister in law, who was deceased.  I had broken a treasured heirloom, an irreplaceable possession.  My family member took the broken dish and detached foot piece and disappeared to attempt repairs.

I expressed my apology for the clumsy accident, and I was dismissed with the words “Well, it’s done.  Nothing we can do about it.”  I had never felt so helpless.  I wanted to make it right.  Ultimately, an epoxy was applied to the glass and the foot was reattached.  The bowl was refilled with candy and replaced with its lid there on the table.  Years later, I picked it up and examined the damage I had caused again.  There was the scar.  There was where repairs had been made.  My regret lingered, even then.  But my family member had never mentioned it again.  I had been forgiven.

Oops!  My Bad!
Is it just me, or do apologies seem to come very cheaply these days?  And I don’t want to diminish us extending a sincere apology when we have wronged a brother or sister… I’ve just witnessed far too many instances where a token apology is extended and the guilty party walks away feeling that they are completely absolved of wrong.  Sometimes, it isn’t merely an apology that is needed; it is restitution.  “I’m deeply sorry that I broke your garden rake.  Here, I have purchased you a new one.  Please accept my apology.  Should you ever loan me anything again, I hope to assure you I will take very good care of it.” 

Recently, my father had his car at a friend’s garage getting his air conditioner repaired.  In making the repairs, the mechanic friend inadvertently burned a hole through another component of the air conditioner.  He admitted responsibility for the damage, but pled that the damage was an accident, so he had no responsibility to repair what he had done at his own cost.  Ultimately my father had to take his car elsewhere and pay several hundred dollars for the repair.  In speaking with my dad, while he laments the unnecessary costs, but he grieves over the loss of a friend, and the violation he felt.  He just wanted it made right.  He wanted to be able to trust his friend again.

Make it right
Whether we are dealing with broken possessions, broken promises, or hurt feelings, the Lord encourages us to be reconciled with the offended brother or sister.  Sometimes reconciliation isn’t as simple as reattaching a broken bowl foot or buying a new rake.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of rebuilding a friendship and reestablishing trust.  It may take days, weeks, or even years…but it must be done.  Pride has to be set aside and genuine contrition exhibited.  People and relationships have to be put first.  We will seek to make it right.  This too is what it means to live as Christ.

Lord Jesus, so many times in this life, we injure others by our actions and words…or lack of actions and words.  We break things.  We break hearts.  Sometimes we act in anger and with intention.  Sometimes our actions are accidental.  Still the damage happens.  Help us O Lord, as we seek to heal relationships and restore lives.  Help us not simply to say we are sorry, but to prove that we care when people are injured by us.  In your name I pray, Amen.

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