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Apologies 101

May 8, 2019

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Luke 15:17-21

The lost son, or the Prodigal Son, as the character in Jesus’ story is famously called, could have hit the road with a bestselling seminar on Apologies 101. He had it down. He knew what really mattered when trying to restore a relationship where he had been wrong. Think about all he did.

He sat in his consequences and allowed reality to come home. He no longer lived in denial about his choices and what they had caused.

He made a deliberate choice and plan. He carefully thought through what he would say.

He went home with a humble heart. He didn’t go home as a son with rights; he went home as a wrongdoer asking for forgiveness.

“If,” “but,” and “maybe” were nowhere in his conversation. He directly and specifically addressed his wrong to the one it was against, his father.

He got right to the point and took full responsibility. He didn’t dance around the issue; he didn’t minimize his actions or blame anyone else.

That is the only way an apology can hope to work. Truly, it is the only way an apology is truly worthy of the name. An apology takes full responsibility, doesn’t shift blame or prescribe how the other person is to respond. An apology depends entirely on my humility and vulnerability. When I do it that way, God takes responsibility for me.

  • Do my apologies contain “if,” “but,” or “maybe”? Do I apologize with an agenda for how the other person is to respond? How does that generally work out for me?
  • What broken relationship in my life could benefit from an apology, Prodigal Son style?
  • Pray about it, and decide what needs to be said and when you could do it. Expect God to do what you can’t do.