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hardest words ever?

Have you ever noticed that there are people in this world that have a really difficult time saying the words “I am sorry”?  It’s like their tongue just got hammered with Novocain.

Patti and I have been really close to people in our past, who absolutely would not say those words.  If we asked them for forgiveness, repented, apologized or said “I’m sorry”, they would always be very accommodating and extend grace.  But, we would never hear them chime-in to own their own offense if we had gotten clobbered in an altercation.  We have known them for what seems like a really long time and never once did we hear those weighted and healing words:  “I am sorry”.  In fact, we totally gave up on the expectation all together.

What is that?  We know this is elementary and foundational RED LETTER verbiage from the Lord: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother (or sister) has something against you…” Shinola!  Wish that wasn’t in there, but it is.  Anyone who wounds another knows that they have to go get it right or they set a course aflame that isn’t good for anyone, mostly themselves.  As Michael Hindes taught at the last TWR training camp and I have since treated the topic two times in my church in Texas, an un-dealt-with offense or internal wound has horrible DNA in them.  Simply put, forgiveness is my responsibility once I’ve been wounded.  But what we often fail to recognize, there is a really good chance that while we were being offended, we were like-wise offending in the process.  As much as we would like to think that we are the innocent victim, the reality of that might be our own wounded illusion.  Hmmmmm.   Few of us can take stinging feedback or a rebuke without hitting back with some kind of lethal counter-punch of our own.  Once the dust settles, that means that I have more work  to do than just offer forgiveness when I am asked for it.  I must also ask for forgiveness and say “I am sorry!”  And it really helps us if we can say the words “I am sorry” without offering the traditional “BUT” at the end of it.  That is our attempt to justify why we held on to the offense or wound in the first place.  When we add the “but”, it removes some of the healing balm in the equation and we move back to a more self-centered focus again.  Usually, it pitches the boat towards the suggestion that you do not mean what you say in the first place.

What are the key components on why is it so hard for us to say “I am sorry”?

The big winner is usually PRIDE(ewwww!) If you hang out in Proverbs and allow Lady Wisdom to have her say about it, you’ll shudder with chilling awareness that God absolutely despises pride and He deals with it harshly.  Another is a spirit of REJECTION (it also deserves a big round of:  ewwwww!) We get so consumed with our own hurt, our pain, our sting, our offense, our self…that we really do not even process the fact that we probably have a dog in the fight.  Maybe you offered another person  honest and helpful truth, trying to do the right thing, but you mishandled the delivery and your passion got the better of you.  Then, you pretty much jacked up the whole situation because  you brought a word out of a bad spirit.  It happens more often than not!  Yip, the one you confronted deserves an apology, plain and simple.  In the insurance business we called that the  “proximate cause”. Claims are paid on the basis of who or what started the chain reaction that resulted in a loss.  In cases where a feud has been brewing for long periods of time, it might be best to assume that you were the “official offender or proximate cause” and just suck it up and repent. STUBBORN. (Ugly, ugly, ugly!) That is like a bad monopoly card: “Get out of freedom…do not collect righteous peace”.  That kind of stiffness in our heart usually gets dealt with by God in unique and creative fashion.  Highly efficient, effective and it is quite possible it will become publicly awkward for you!

With all that being said, we have to get to the place of considering  ALL that happens in our encounters.  Surely we are not right all the time…every time…are we?

Go ahead.  Say the hardest words ever.  Right what is wrong.  It’s elemental living.


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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Paige
    June 22, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Wow — good morning conviction!!! Tough word but so good!! My fav so far.

  2. June 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    That is a great word right there! Thanks for the raw honesty!

  3. Janina
    June 23, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Thanks for this, Mike. I definitely need to continue to grow in this, and I appreciate the prodding this morning!

  4. Ashley Musick
    June 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Great words Mike… love the monopoly analogy. “Do not collect righteous peace!” Perfect and memorable for the lesson! Love you and all the words of wisdom you share with all of us.

  5. Kris Johnson
    June 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    First, I must explain, I am inherently contrarian. Don’t take it personal. Think of it as a avenue for deeper discussion, and after you finish reading this, you can write back and tell me how wrong I am.

    OK, God despises the sin of Hubris, but I find no fault in Pride in and of itself. Taking pride in your work, your work ethic, your accomplishments; is this bad in Gods eyes? I think humanity would be better off taking a little more pride in what they do, and end the social conpunctiuon that drivers so many people to live as perpetual victims. Just because Jesus blessed the least of us, doesn’t mean we should all aspire for perpetual victimhood. And yet, I find that attitude to be an epidemic throughout the world. It is important to distinguish between Pride and Hubris. We all need to recognize that our gifts come from God, and as a correlation, our success comes from applying the gifts God gives us. However, those gifts can be wasted (and often are) when we do not even attempt to aspire for greatness inherent in us all. Our success, spiritually, emotionally, interpersonally, and professionally all require the pursuit of – and discipline to – push our God given gifts into action and apply them to achieve our goals. Feeling a sense of accomplishment about doing that cannot not be immoral or wrong.

    God doesn’t want us to ignore our greatest accomplishments – At least I don’t think he does – so why would he want me to banish the human emotion that drives me to the achievement of my highest values? Pride vs. Hubris –

    I do not believe pride is inherently evil. It is the application and underlying nature of this “feeling” that is either evil or good. I don not believe that we should accept any code of irrational virtues because of the un earned guilt put on us from those who are offended. Like almost any other situation, circumstances play a role in what our proper response should be. Ignoring the circumstance is ignorant, like walking around blindfolded.

    I refuse to believe that God wants me to accept guilt when that guilt is unearned, though if I have earned it, it should never be left uncorrected. I will never resign passively to flaws in my own character that are not present. And I will not place any social fear, or mood of the moment, above the reality of what is (A is A). The simple act of offending another person does not necessarily mean that it is my place to apologize. It is up to the individual to discern with their own conscious, and through prayer with God, determine what the correct response to conflict with others is. Only then can we act to seek forgiveness – or move on with life – with any truth behind our words.

    If someone attacks a person or object that I value, an angry reaction from me will be a fully justified response. Anger in itself is not evil either, nor are most human emotions evil on their own. It is the use of that anger that classifies it as sinful or righteous. To dismiss anger as outrightly evil is to handcuff yourself in enemy territory, in a world that is against God inherently. Anger is a tool given to us from a God who also gets angry and expresses that anger. God does not seek forgiveness for that.

    Is anger or Pride dangerous? Absolutely. Can it cause pain to others? Of course it can. But that does not make it bad. The outcome of a confrontation with people does not determine the justness of whatever actions have been taken. We can be angry in love, or we can be angry with hate.. I do not for a moment believe we are required to apologize to people we have not wronged, simply because our tone of voice or mannerisms caused the other to be offended.

    But anger elicits emotions from others that often cause them to feel wronged, in the end, they may decide that you owe them something to compensate for their unjustified feelings. But Jesus himself responded in anger on a number of occasions. He entire life consisted of pissing off the religious establishment and doing what was required of him according to his Father. Not to mention his chasing of the temple solicitors out of Jerusalem with a whip. How do you think those guys felt about Jesus? I bet they felt unjustly persecuted for participating in a common social practice. Did Jesus seek their forgiveness? No, he had nothing to be forgiven.

    I understand this type of attitude can be dangerous, as it can lead to fanaticism. However, the view of moral passivity in response to human offense is just as dangerous, which is illustrated quite nicely by the Politically Correct world in which we now live (walking on eggshells-don’t dare offend anyone). I reject a role that requires me to self-immolate as a moral duty, especially without the much needed circumstantial variables present in every single situation where conflict is present. Many Atheist are offended simply by the existence of Christians, should I apologize to them for seeking God? Should I apologize to Europe and the middle-east for being American, like Obama did 🙂 ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinng!

    To live requires a sense of self-value, but man has no automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of God. Pride comes from accomplishments, and accomplishments come from the application of hard work, and years of practice. We are born as rational beings with the ability to create through the gifts of God, but we must create by choice—this is the precondition of earning self esteem (taking pride in your life). The part of your soul that desires the best of everything for yourself and those you love, that seeks moral perfection and pursuit of greatness in achievement, is something that we should value – not shun. This is Pride. Take Pride in your accomplishments, and feel good about the things you’ve overcome. Recognize that without God it was impossible, but also that without personal ambition, ingenuity, effort, and perseverance, it would also be impossible. Use your success and failure as a roadmap for success in the future, but understand that earthly success is not the end goal, and don’t let your pride inflate your sense of self worth.

    Eccl. 3:1-8
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

    Lastly, in regards to your statement here: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother (or sister) has something against you…”

    If the bible is the written word of God, what is the point to adding in words for political correct translations?
    If this is something that I consider extremely offensive, do you feel the need to apologize for it? 🙂 ha!

    Love you,
    Mike, I don’t disagree with all that much of your post, I just felt like writing 🙂

    • June 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      First, I had to go look up the word Hubris. Second, do you confuse pride (attention to detail) to the pride of life (1 Jn 2:15-17)? Third, howz the family? xo

  6. Kris Johnson
    July 1, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Truth is, I’ve never heard them distinguished in any church setting. My Christian educaiton regarding pride, at every christian institution I have been educated at, is pretty much as follows:

    Pride comes before the fall
    Be not filled with pride
    Do not take pride in the things of this world …ect…

    Basically, Pride bad, Humility good. If there is a scriptural distinction between the two uses, I would love to hear it, but I have never heard pride discussed in any kind of way that refers to it as “attention to detail”. That’s kinda my point.

    Christians love to jump on catch phrases and trendy Christian practices: Be humble, all gifts come from the lord. However, no-one ever seems to point out the dangers and just flat out irritations relating to false humility. Our pusuit of altruism, and our cultural tendencie to favor that as a bahvioral practice, leads people to all sorts of other sins in their efforts to appear in favorable and gain approval of the intelligencia that puts value on outward appearance over inward lifestyles. People are more likely nowadays to overexagerate their shortcomings – or over exxagerate their altruistic actions like charity – than they are to boast about everything they do extremely well (at least in Christian circles I know of) This is because of social conventions that have twisted peoples view of themselves. They think that self-immolation, and actions that are not directly beneficial are the way to gain social approval.

    I think my point was: Pride is bad, of course. But striving to perfect your daily life skills is extremely beneficial and shouldn’t be confused with a pridefull life. Neither should feeling self satisfaction at the accomplishment of goals, you should feel good about it. If there is a distinction between the uses of the term pride, you would be the first to recognize it to me. Although I do have to admit, I haven’t looked into it all that much.

    I think in general we agree on the point, I just don’t like the aspects of christianity that have pushed people to think in abstract irrational thoughts. Basically, that failure is fine. Success should be feared. These are just a few aspects in the Christian tradition that change Jesus from who he was, into a western christian passifist, who wouldn’t harm a butterfly, was always smiling, and was loved by all. The dude stirred the pot more than any other person in human history. I don’t like the grandma potrayal of him Not that you were doing that, it’s just an instant reaction I have frequently when thinking on topics such as these.

    The family is excellent. They say: “hello” to you and yours

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