While the Bible doesn't actually use the word "apologizing," it does teach us a lot about the subject. We can learn all we need to know about apologizing by studying the words "confess" and "forgiveness." We can also take a look at some situations in the Bible where apologizing took place to see what the outcomes were. In addition, we can examine passages where apologizing didn't take place, and what those results were.
There are a lot of individuals in the Bible that apologized. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish because he didn't go where God had instructed him to. In Jonah Chapter 2, we can read Jonah's heartfelt apology to God for his disobedience. As a result, God had the fish spit Jonah out on dry land, so Jonah got a second chance. Job is another example of apologizing in the Bible. God allowed Satan to inflict Job physically and financially. In Job Chapter 42, we read Job's apology to God for speaking about things he did not understand. It wasn't until this apology happened that God healed Job and restored his finances.
The first benefit of apologizing is that the person doing the wrong can receive forgiveness. In Genesis, we find two twins named Jacob and Esau. Jacob tricked Esau into giving him his birthright and then stole his father's blessing. Later on, in chapters 32 and 33, we see Jacob offering Esau a sincere apology along with many gifts. Esau forgave his brother and did not kill him like he had said he would earlier. Jacob received forgives and got to keep his life because he apologized. The second benefit to apologizing is that it is contagious. In Ezra 10:1, we find Ezra crying and apologizing to the Lord for his sin and the sin of the people. The people happen to come by and witness Ezra apologizing. It so moved them that they too began to weep before the Lord and apologize.
Apologies should take place as soon as possible. If that doesn't happen, the Bible instructs us, in Ephesians 4:26, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Since the sun goes down at the end of the day, we can surmise that the Bible is telling us to apologize for whatever has made us angry and upset before we go to bed for the night. Individual should never put off an apology for another day. The time frame for making an apology is 1 day.
The effects of apologizing can be substantial. Relationships are restored, such as Jacob and Esau's above. In Genesis, we read about a boy named Joseph and his eleven jealous brothers. The brothers sold Joseph in to slavery. Joseph ended up becoming the highest ranking official under the King. Because of a drought, Joseph's brothers came to him (not knowing who he was) to ask for food. By the end of the story, the brothers apologize for what they had done to Joseph and their relationship with Joseph is restored. Another effect of apologizing is the elimination of stressful situations. Imagine if your family is gathering for Christmas dinner, and two of the members are feuding. Christmas dinner can then be tense, with everyone watching what they say so no fights break out. If the two feuding family members get together and apologize, the Christmas dinner can be filled with fun and laughter instead of anxiety.
When following God's word, one must consider following the command to forgive others. We are told in Luke 11:3-5 that we need to forgive others so that we, too, can be forgiven. If we don't apologize and forgive those that have wronged us, what gives us the right to expect other people to apologize to us when they have done us wrong? If we have children, we must also consider following this model so that they will learn how to apologize by watching us.
- Billy Alexander