What does it mean to apologize? Do our kids really have to do it? What does God say about seeking forgiveness? Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian families understand apologies and forgiveness from God’s perspective.
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Listen to the following episodes on Apple Podcasts by clicking the titles.
"The Best Devotionals for Children: Natasha Crain Interview, Part 1” (episode 65)
“Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: Natasha Crain Interview, Part 2” (episode 66)
“Parenting Q&A: Natasha Crain Interview, Part 3” (episode 67)
“Talking with Your Kids about God | Natasha Crain Interview” (episode 105)
“A Parent’s 5 Jobs” (episode 184)
"How Do You Become a New Parent in the New Year” (episode 225)
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Good day to you all.
I want to thank you for your patience. I’m very sorry that I did not post any episodes this past week.
I have had a very difficult time getting caught back up after the holidays. On top of that, I just returned from Victory Academy’s annual Snowshoe Retreat. We spent the whole week in a cabin with no electricity or running water, and we talked about — of all things — purity.
Actually, we talked about satisfaction, and we focused on many of the ways we seek for satisfaction outside of God. The devotional times are spent on money, food, friends, and things like that, but the evening chapel times were all about sexuality.
It's fantastic to look into God’s Word and see the world so clearly. He truly does know what’s best for us, and He outlines so perfectly what happens when we worship the creature rather than the Creator.
Anyway, again, I’m sorry that we didn’t post anything this last week, but thank you to those of you who prayed for retreat and who knew that I was falling behind.
If you’re wondering how you could have even known about that retreat in order to pray for it, I encourage you to follow us on Facebook. We share carefully-curated parenting articles there all the time, but we also post more informal information there as well. And I also share things like that on Twitter @AMBrewster.
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And thank you to Scott and Mindee and Lisa and an Anonymous Donor for making today’s episode possible. Their faithful giving is such a blessing to us. I love getting to know our Patrons. Scott and Mindee and I spent over an hour on the phone a week or so ago, and it was so incredibly encouraging. Lisa and I have talked on many occasions and love getting to know her and her husband.
If you would be interested in getting to know more about TLP’s mission, you can click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode. There you’ll learn all about us.
And if you’ve been listening to the show for any length of time, will you please consider rating and reviewing us on iTunes.
Recently, we’ve been receiving some very low ratings. I know how it happens. Normally, the world would have little to no interest in what we’re doing here, but sometimes our episode titles attract people from all walks of life. Well, no doubt many people wouldn’t have liked anything I said in the recent two-part “2019 Parenting Trends” episode.
And they have no problem throwing down a single-star rating.
Those people are more than welcome to their opinions and their ratings, but I’d like to call on those of you who genuinely love the Lord and this show, to take a minute to — at least — give us a 5-star rating. Any review you could leave would be that much better.
Okay, let’s start the discussion about teaching our children to apologize.
First, let me remind you about our free episode notes available at TruthLoveParent.com. All you have to do is click the link below to be taken to them.
Also, I need to clarify that we’re talking about apologies, not apologetics.
Do I believe that we need to teach our children to “apologize” for and defend their faith? Definitely, and I think we need to spend a lot more time talking about that on this show.
I think one reason I haven’t really gotten around to it is that we’re still building a foundation for Christian parenting. Apologetics is a “Training Level” concept, and many of us just aren’t there yet.
That Training doesn’t really take root until we’ve done the appropriate teaching and interpreting and counseling. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start apologetics training when our children are very young, but I think that our kids will not truly engage in apologetics until they’ve first submitted to Christ, and second until they’ve regularly submitted to your teaching, interpreting, counseling, and training.
But if you would like to know more about how to train our kids about God and get them into apologetics, then you should check out my four interviews with author and speaker, Natasha Crain. She’s a powerful voice for women and parents in apologetics.
You can learn more about her, her books, and how to keep your kids on God’s side by listening to episodes 65, 66, 67, and 105. And the links to those episodes will be in the description below.
Anyway, that's not the topic of today’s show.
So, I think it’s a good idea to define our terms.
1. What is an apology?
Merriam-Webster defines an apology as “an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret.”
However, I want to put a finer point on it by saying that an apology is “a confession of sin and request for forgiveness.”
So, I want to start with why asking for forgiveness is so important, and then I want to study what the Lord has to say about apologies.
First, understand that the words “apology,” “apologize,” and the like are not in Scripture. The first known use of the word wasn’t even until 1533, and it originated in Middle French or Late Latin.
However, those terms did have some roots in Greek. Merriam-Webster suggests that a hybrid of apo and logos is in its basement. And that should be very interesting to us.
Logos is the word for a “word.” It’s something that is said or an account given. Most precisely — in the Bible — it speaks to the revelation of God’s Truth and Christ Himself.
Apo is a prefix used to refer to something that is apart from something else. For example, “apostate” refers to someone that has fallen away from Truth.
So, we can see how in the Scripture the word apologia means to given a defense — that’s our modern understanding of apologetics. But we can also easily imagine how the word could have come to mean what it does today.
An apology is admitting to how we did not align with God’s Truth. It’s speaking in such a way as to show that we were nowhere near where we should have been.
I find all of that interesting — perhaps you don’t. Either way, I’m no scholar, but I truly enjoy the evolution of language. It teaches us about ourselves and from where we’ve come.
2. Why are apologies so important?
Let’s review our definition. An apology is “a confession of sin and request for forgiveness.”
I think I John 1:9-10 is a beautiful picture of when apologies are necessary. It reads, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
We desperately need to apologize or we will not be forgiven. We don’t need to apologize if we haven’t sinned. And we won’t ever apologize if we don’t believe we did anything wrong.
I make a very clear delineation in this for my children.
Some things are unintentional. My child accidentally bumps into me as they turn a corner — it would be appropriate to say, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there. Are you okay?”
But it would be un-necessary and inappropriate to say, “Please forgive me for running into you.”
Of course, if they did it on purpose, that may be a different story, but according to the picture I just painted — if it were accidental — there is no reason for an apology.
And I think we need to be very specific in our words and our terms. We can’t afford to be fuzzy and slushy. Let’s be honest, our kids don’t understand so many concepts. Clearly defined ideas are explained to them, and they still misinterpret it.
How much more trouble are we going to cause when we use the terms “apologize” and “say you’re sorry” identically?
I’m going to suggest that we only instruct our children to “say they’re sorry” when they unintentionally — and without sin — inconvenienced a person or situation. Something gets accidentally broken, time is inadvertently wasted, someone unintentionally gets hurt, and it would be very difficult to really point to any fault or sin (no one was being lazy or disrespectful or unkind), then it’s completely appropriate to “beg their pardon” or “say they’re sorry.”
But, if we legitimately need forgiveness, then we must apologize.
But, what does it mean to need forgiveness? What is forgiveness?
Mary Web defines “forgive” as “to cease to feel resentment against an offender.” And she defines “resent” as “to feel or express annoyance.”
But I beleive this definition falls far too short.
It puts far too much weight on feeling.
Let’s consider our passage again: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Sin is an attack against God that doesn’t conform to His character. If we remain guilty, then the consequences are going to continue to come into our lives. We need forgiveness in order to avoid those consequences and repair the relationship.
Now, that may sound very pragmatic and selfish, but it’s not.
Yes, if I’m trying to merely avoid the uncomfortable Secondary Consequences, then, yes, my motives are probably selfish.
But, if I’m trying to avoid the Primary Consequences, my motivation is very different.
The Primary Consequences are that I’ve hurt my God, I’ve hurt others, and I’ve hurt myself by making it easier to sin in the future.
Those are primarily focused outside of self.
So, yes, I need forgiveness so that I don’t suffer the consequences of continuing to hurt my God and those humans against whom I’ve sinned.
So, it’s very appropriate to say that I need forgiveness.
And forgiveness is more than simply ceasing to feel resentment against the offender.
True forgiveness is outlined in the verse: forgiveness involves two parts: on one side I stop holding your sin against you — I expunge it from your account as if it never existed — but, secondly, it’s working toward fixing the problem. As God cleanses us from all unrighteousness, then righteousness must be taking its place.
Forgiveness involves not merely gaining pardon, but also setting the person up for change from sin to righteousness.
This is why forgiveness is necessary.
I’m going to argue that real change cannot happen if forgiveness has not been sought.
This is why this is the first legitimate counsel we can give our children.
Counseling comes after education and reproof.
So, we’ve taught them what is right and what is wrong. We’ve reproved them and helped them interpret their sin in light of God’s Word; we’ve persuaded them that they have sinned.
But, we’re not done. No change can happen until they turn away from their sin and toward righteousness. Just because they’ve stopped their current sin doesn’t mean they’re not going to do it again. It doesn’t mean we’ve set them up for any more success, because all we did was teach and reprove yet one more time.
And, technically the relationship is still broken. No forgiveness was granted. The relationship still has offense.
Counsel is giving them the information and assistance they need to turn from their error and embrace the right.
So, when I’ve sinned against someone — as I did this morning — I need to confess that I was living in a delusion and sinning against God. Then I need to ask God for forgiveness, and I need to ask the person against whom I sinned for forgiveness.
I have to do all of this before I can continue moving in the right direction.
Now, I’ve entered the correction/counseling stage. I haven’t just stopped walking down the road in the wrong direction, I’ve actually turned and started moving in the right direction.
And the very first step was to humbly acknowledge my sin and ask for forgiveness. Now I can continue being cleansed from my unrighteousness.
That’s why seeking and receiving forgiveness is so incredibly important.
An individual who refuses to confess their sin is arrogant. They’re delusional. And they’re claiming that the offense they committed wasn’t an offense or shouldn’t have been an offense, and the relationship continues to be pained.
Now, let me say two more things and we’ll finish up for today.
First, if you have no idea about what I’m talking when I mention the teaching, reproving, and counseling stages of parenting, then please listen to the Parent’s 5 Jobs series linked below. That series outlines the 5 main jobs God has you on earth to fulfill.
Second, everything I'm suggesting concerning apologies is illustrated for us in the Sermon on the Mount. And if you’ve been a listener of the show for any length of time, you know that I keep going back to Matthew 5 because it gives us the basic overview of the Christian life and the steps we must all take in our journey to submitting to Christ and becoming more like Him.
It starts with acknowledging our sin and being grieved by it. Then comes the humility. Now, the passage doesn’t specify confession and repentance and apologies, but it does show us what comes next. When we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and Matthew 5 described the outcome of God cleansing us from unrighteousness. It says that we will hunger and thirst after righteousness and start exemplifying God-honoring character in our lives.
Now, there’s a lot more I want to say about this. Actually, there’s a lot more Jesus wants to say about this.
So, next time we’re going to look at three important Truths that Jesus will reveal about the nature of apologies.
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If we truly want what’s best for our children, if we want to them to be able to truly correct their trajectory, then we need to teach them the importance and formula for seeking forgiveness.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time
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