If I’ve learned anything from working at a real grown-up job, it’s how to apologize. Or maybe that’s giving myself too much credit: I’ve learned the importance of apologizing. Apologizing is that excruciating process in which I slice open my own pride and lay my weakness out on the table for others to see. It’s important to keep relationships going, but it’s a process I’d rather just avoid.
I work in a creative agency full of strong personalities and complicated projects. This means we have lots of room for conflict and lots of opportunity for mistakes. Some days go by without any flare-ups, but there come the days when I discover a mistake I’ve made weeks earlier. My stomach tightens as I calculate that it is too late in the project timeline to correct it. Of course, I always immediately confess. Ha. More likely, I begin frantically searching through email threads and past project versions to see who else has contributed to or OK-ed this mistake.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a way to pin this on someone else. Maybe I won’t have to take responsibility for anything.
Then there’s an even deeper level, in times I know for sure that I’ve sinned against someone. I’ve received a clear conviction, and there’s no blaming anyone else. All that’s left for me to do is decide whether I will approach the person I’ve wronged and lay out my confession, asking for forgiveness. In this scenario, my sniveling thought is that maybe what I’ve done isn’t really that bad. That person can live without my confession. I can just take God’s forgiveness on this and call it a day.
I imagine that in these moments, Jesus is sitting in heaven exhaustedly rubbing his thorn-scarred brow thinking, “Here we go again. I took responsibility for all your sins, and you can’t admit to letting a typo through? You can’t admit to being rude to your co-worker in a meeting? You can’t admit to slandering someone or making someone else feel small? Even though you obviously did it? And you are daring to claim my forgiveness for it?”
Jesus probably doesn’t become exhausted with me as often as I imagine he does, but let’s be real, he would be well within his right to do so. I’m here on earth scrambling to find ways to avoid admitting my sin after he completely humbled himself so that I could be forgiven for all the sins he already knew I was going to commit.
Not a shining moment.
Refusing to admit my wrongs says to God, “I am not that bad.” I don’t want to apologize because that would require me to drop down in my own rankings. It will also probably make other people think less of me. I certainly don’t want to have to endure any sort of humiliation or punishment – I don’t deserve that!
Which all adds up to: I don’t want to be like Jesus.
Jesus was humiliated. He was mocked. He took punishment without complaining. Even though Jesus never had to apologize for any wrong he committed, he lived all of the personal humility and self-sacrifice apologizing requires of us. When I refuse to apologize, I am refusing to emulate these qualities of Jesus.
Apologizing is important for our souls because it makes us more like Christ in humility. Even though we are so far from his sinless life, we can participate in humility with him as we lower ourselves and honor others.
Are you joining Christ in humility, or are you holding up your own pride? Are you leaving any wrongs unaddressed? Are you withholding an apology out of fear of humiliation? Ask God to soften your heart and give you peace to confess.
You can offer yourself in apology freely, knowing that Christ has led the way in humility.