Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. [Proverbs 14:9 (NLT)]
She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. [1 Samuel 25:24 (NLT)]
While visiting my son, I was walking in his neighborhood when a car raced out of a driveway and sped into the street without slowing to look for cars or people. If I hadn’t paused briefly to get a flower photo, I would have had an intimate encounter with that vehicle. After thanking God that I hadn’t become road kill, I continued down the street and turned onto the walking path. A car approached and stopped. When the driver lowered his window and called out to me, I realized he’d been driving that speeding car. He offered an earnest apology. After explaining he was late for a meeting, he admitted that was no excuse for his recklessness. Ashamed of his behavior, he wanted to make sure I was OK. Assuring him I was, I wished him well and told him to be careful getting to his meeting. Maybe he was just afraid I was going to post something nasty about his driving on Nextdoor or Facebook or complain about him to his neighbors. On the other hand, maybe he realized how his carelessness nearly caused a tragedy. In any case, as late as he was, he probably lost another five minutes or more by turning his car around to find me and offer his apology.
An apology can do a lot to diffuse a difficult situation. In this case, I’d stopped thinking about the car until it returned a few minutes later. Not all offenses, however, are so easily dismissed. I think of the story of David, Nabal, and Abigail. Considered outlaws, David and his men were hiding from King Saul in the wilderness. They came across shepherds watching the sheep for their master Nabal. Rather than stealing any animals for themselves, David’s men took nothing and actually formed a line of protection around Nabal’s flock so no harm came to the sheep or shepherds. When sheep shearing time arrived, David sent wishes of peace and prosperity to the wealthy Nabal and asked if he would be willing to share some meat with David and his men. Not only did Nabal refuse, he did so with insult. When David heard his rude response, intending to kill every man in Nabal’s household, the angry young man started out with his army. Meanwhile, a servant told Nabal’s wife Abigail of his master’s rashness in offending David. The wise woman quickly packed up a large quantity of food and wine and went to David. After humbly apologizing for her husband’s boorish behavior, she offered the provisions to David and his men. Considering Nabal’s personality, this probably was not the first time Abigail had to apologize for her husband’s imprudent and churlish conduct. Her heartfelt apology averted the senseless tragedy that would have occurred had David taken vengeance for the insult. In what could be called poetic justice, Nabal had a stroke upon learning of his wife’s actions and David ended up marrying the lovely and wise widow.
An apology isn’t just saying we’re sorry, especially when, as often is the case, it includes justification for our poor behavior. A true apology is like Abigail’s—it admits being in the wrong, expresses regret, and makes restitution for any offense. Although we are told to forgive, forgiveness is easier when an apology is offered. Let’s make life more pleasant for everyone by remembering to apologize.
Never ruin an apology with an excuse. [Benjamin Franklin]