It is the second most powerful phrase in our language.
It is one of the first phrases a child learns when developing social skills.
It carries great potential for healing when spoken from the heart.
It is supposed to come naturally for Christians.
My own son, from his earliest years, has understood the full equation, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”.
Sadly, once you achieve a measure of authority, the phrase sticks in your throat like a fish bone.
Thousands of people who have experienced some sort of organizational abuse of authority have been held in the grip of that abuse because people are too important in their own eyes to say two simple words.
They should forgive unilaterally, you object…let it go and move on.
Perhaps…but that’s not the way we’re wired and that’s not how God set up the social intercourse of the church.
To be offended without the offender seeking forgiveness creates an open cycle of pain that takes an act of God to heal… when two words spoken fitly could have ended the cycle and created health.
The only thing worse is when the offender denies giving any offense at all…
You can easily spot those who have been denied the hearing of those words…they find a way to clean the wound and maintain peace for a season, but inevitably the wound begins to fester and fill with toxins and they either display the frustration and pain or they retreat from the circle to clean the wound anew.
The wound never heals, because the balm is never applied by the ones who hold it.
This principle applies to our personal relationships as well…days, months, years, of strife can be ended with the speaking of two simple words.
I have played both parts in my life, the offender and the offended, and the only freedom I have ever found was held in those two words, given and received.
You see, the most powerful phrase in our tongue is “I love you”…but some will only believe those words if they hear “I’m sorry” first.
Today, I’m going to seek out those who need to hear from me.
Go and do likewise.
Make your own application…