After almost 25 years of marriage, and raising four children, I’ve both given my fair share of apologies and received them. I’ve instructed my children to accept responsibility for their actions and apologize far more times than I can count.
For the past two months, our women’s Sunday morning class has been watching a series of videos called, “Resolving Everyday Conflicts” by Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries. They are available for free through RightNow Media if your church has a RightNow Media account. Or you can find the DVD or the book online at Christian Book Distributors.
I found Session 5, “Accepting Responsibility, Making an Effective Apology,” to be particularly helpful. The speaker shared seven A’s for an effective apology.
- Address Everyone Involved
- Avoid If, But, and Maybe
- Admit Specifically
- Apologize, Acknowledging the Hurt
- Accept the Consequence
- Alter your Behavior
- Ask for Forgiveness and Allow Time
In light of this recent teaching, the interaction between Adam and Eve and their Creator in Genesis 3 jumped out at me.
After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked Adam two pretty simple questions, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Adam replied, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)
Then, God asked Eve a pretty simple question as well, “What is this that you have done?”
Eve replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)
How many times have I asked my children similar questions and received similar answers?
- Me: “Did you finish your homework?”
Child: “I didn’t know how, and you weren’t home to help me.”
- Me: “Have you taken out the trash like I asked?”
Child: “The dumpster was full.”
- Me: “Did you put away your laundry?”
Child: “I forgot.”
- Me: “Who made this mess?”
Child: “He did.”
And the list goes on and on.
Since the very first sin, mankind has struggled to take responsibility for our actions. Adam blamed the woman for giving him the fruit, as well as blaming God for giving him the woman. Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her. Our children blame others or their circumstances, including their own forgetfulness, for their shortcomings. And we blame our children or our husband or our neighbor or the traffic or the dog … for ours.
How do you struggle with accepting responsibility for your own sin?
Who do you usually blame when you mess up?
How can you improve in being genuinely repentant and seeking reconciliation when you’ve fallen short?
Rather than reading this post and thinking of how messed up your kids, or your parents, or your husband or your wife is … let’s try instead to focus on our own responsibility in the problem. And seek God God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, and who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.
By the way, I found this article helpful. “Seven Marks of a Good Apology (and 8 Marks of a Bad One)” at Crosswalk’s website. It outlines each of these 7 marks of a good apology in more detail.