“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
~Romans 7:15 (NIV).
Such imperfect words, from a Jesus-bequeathed apostle, in such a holy book... but Paul knew that holiness speaks of none other than God, and us sanctified, alone, through God’s grace.
God’s holy ‘book’ is full of accounts showing how ‘righteous’ people got it wrong. There is only one exception—Jesus.
We Get It Wrong
Every day I do wrong. One recent day in living reflection I recalled that I’d made, the previous day, an ambivalent response to someone seeking to appease me. Going back to this moment in my mind, I recalled that it made me feel uncomfortable, and yet I didn’t seek to resolve the discomfort in the moment; I lazily chose indifference—not exactly the ‘light of Jesus’ there.
The saddest thing for me is God’s Spirit inevitably waits patiently for me to see the issues of sin in my life, firsthand, before he prompts me—well, revelation shouldn’t be sad, but the thought that I can’t devise these morally-correcting schemes in the moment of my own plaguing sin is saddening. Yet, God is graceful in exercising his grace.
Owning Our ‘Me-ness’
And yet, this is me—the sinful me—a ‘me’ I own in the sight of God. This too is representative of all of us in the company of others. None of us can hide our sinful natures.
The Action of Apology
What do sinners do to mark themselves as ‘saved sinners’? They apologise; daily, routinely, cheerfully, humbly, sincerely, authentically, with integrity.
The rubber hits the road in the apology. We apologise for falling short in the estimations of others, ourselves, and of course, God. This, again, is an inevitable and repeatable event—that of falling short.
Perhaps this is one tangible way to ‘be’ Christian; to find the areas of our personal and interpersonal lives where saying sorry is a God-anointed action breaking down gradually all sorts of evil powers and principalities.
Apologies always work best, and correctly, where there is an equally humble and worthy recipient i.e. the apology targets someone we’ve genuinely hurt or is downcast because of us.
This discounts the apology to the person who—in their own vagrant pride—might lord the apology over us; with these, we can still apologise—we just need to be adept at being very focused and discerning in our target and delivery so they don’t jump to the wrong idea. Notwithstanding, if we wrong anyone, a simple and quick apology should be forthcoming.
When we can routinely and instinctually apologise—humbly, sincerely, authentically, and it feels to the other person we’ve actually done same—it’s a good sign we’re on the right track with God in our discipleship.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.