Hurts and Apologies

Ephesians 4:32

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

The Cross

An apology offered and then forgiveness given in response is often the natural and ‘just’ sequence, but what if no apology is ever offered or can be offered, can forgiveness still be given?…

The Oxford dictionary’s first definition of an apology or ‘sorry’ is: to feel sad or sympathy with someone else’s misfortune; be filled with compassion for. The second definition is: to feel regret or penitence.

Waiting for an apology can be painful. The desire to receive one is reasonable, as the hurt caused demands a payment of sorts in the other person feeling hurt or sorry in the action of an apology. It is clear though, that some people see no value in apologising, some find it difficult and there are some who seem to over-apologise.

Modern psychology has reflected that learning to say, ‘I’m sorry’ is often taught from a very early age.1 Author and psychotherapist Beverly Engel cites some benefits of the apology2:

Benefits to the apologiser

1. The most important benefit to the offender is his relief from his guilty conscience. Guilty consciousness and remorse are very powerful in creating great damages in self-esteem and self-confidence. An apology can reduce these damages. 

2. When the offender recognizes his fault and apologises, it cuts down the arrogance on the part of the offender. 

3. An apology gives the confidence to keep up relationships. By apologizing the offender can remain emotionally connected to friends, colleagues and loved ones. The distance is widened without an apology.

4. The humility caused by the apology will prevent the offender from further wrong-doing or repeating the same offence. Moreover, God is pleased with this humility caused by an apology.

5. Many diseases such as ulcer, blood pressure, etc. are caused by building up anger and hatred. Suppression of emotions causes further damages. A simple action of apology can relieve you from such mishaps.

6. Even though the result of an apology may not be immediate, it will yield its good benefits in course of time. To err is human. Nobody is free from pitfalls. It is human weakness. But an apology can repair such pitfalls and foster up good relationships.

7. Being spontaneous in apologising will project your positive image. When you humble yourself to apologise sincerely for your wrong doing, you come across as a reliable, upright and responsible person.3

And the benefits to the one receiving the apology, Engel says, include:

1. The person who is harmed may experience emotional healing when acknowledged by the offender. His experience of pain caused by the offender will be steadily increasing day by day. When it is apologised it changes the whole scene.

2. When a person is offended the offender becomes a threat. When the offence is acknowledged by an apology the person who has been offended is empowered to move beyond anger. The wound caused by the offence is medicated.

3. The offended person gets an opportunity to forgive the offender. Forgiveness gives both great mental satisfaction and relief to the offender from his guilt of conscience.3

Why then, if there are actually more benefits to the offender then the offended in the act of apologising, do some people find it difficult? Dr Guy Winch, in a recent article in Psychology Today explains:

“Apologies can be deemed as threatening to those who find it difficult to apologise. The reason is that they have trouble separating their actions from their character: If they did something bad, they must be bad people; if they were wrong, they must be ignorant or stupid…Therefore, apologies represent a major threat to their basic sense of identity and self-esteem. While most of us consider apologies as opportunities to resolve interpersonal conflict, they fear their apology may open the floodgates to further accusations and conflict. The refusal to apologise is an attempt to manage emotions, and such people are often also comfortable with anger, irritability, and emotional distance.” 1

Emotional, physical and relational benefits are therefore observed to occur to both the offender and the offended in apologies. And the one who finds it difficult to apologise more often interprets apologies as a direct admission of wrong over realising that an apology is also, as the first definition describes – being a sharing of a sense of sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.

God understands that there will be situations where it is not possible to receive or offer an apology to ask for forgiveness; for instance, if the person cannot be contacted or has passed away. He wants us to experience healing from every hurt and freedom from every pain, whether an apology is offered or not. This healing and freedom has been provided for us through the forgiveness freely given through His Son, Jesus Christ.3

You shall know the truth [about the grace of God] and [that] truth shall make you free.            (John 8:32)

(Continued in Part 2)



  1. Winch, Guy, ‘Psychology today: The Squeaky Wheel’ 2013.
  2. Engel, Beverly, ‘The Power of Apology’ 2002.
  3. Ephesians 1:7, Acts 13:38-39


Hurts and Apologies – Part 2

The Bible does encourage us to forgive others and modern psychology appears to focus more on the benefits of apologising and therefore forgiving, to the offender than the offended. But the Bible’s main encouragement is that God doesn’t want us to focus so much on trying to apologise and forgive, as much as He wants us to realise and focus on the fact that we have ALREADY been forgiven.

Ephesians 1:7

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.


1 John 2:12

your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

Ephesians 4:32

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

The encouragement is for us to not just try to be kind and forgive one another, full stop. It is for us to keep on seeing our forgiveness in Christ and by doing so God says that in time we will be able to forgive – if we cannot straight away God does not condemn us.1 He understands everything we go through.2 We don’t forgive others to get God’s forgiveness (a statement made by Jesus under the law before the Cross); we were forgiven of all our sins past, present, and future at the Cross (where the law ended).3 God forgave us before we were born and had a chance to ask Him for forgiveness.4 The only thing we need to do today is to continually receive this forgiveness, that has already been freely given to us.

Luke 7:40-43

And Jesus answered and said to him…”There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”

Matthew 10:8

..Freely you have received, freely give.

In the passage from Luke above, Jesus was giving an example of how God forgives us: freely – no matter the perceived magnitude of debt we owe God. If we think God is grudgingly forgiving us, we will grudgingly forgive others. God created the human brain and is therefore the psychologist above all psychologists and His advice is simply to look to Jesus.5 The deeper the hurt or pain, the longer and more often we may need to look at the Cross until healing comes. He doesn’t want us to look within ourselves for the effort to forgive He just tells us we have already been forgiven.6 God promises ultimate healing beyond any apology any one could give as a result of knowing our forgiveness in Christ.7

Psalm 103:3

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities [sins]
Who heals all your diseases
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.                                                                                            

Ephesians 1:7

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

1 Peter 2:24

…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness [our guiltless standing before God provided by Jesus’ blood]by whose striped you were healed.

You have already been forgiven. He is with you every step of the way, never leaving you nor forsaking you – no matter what.8



  1. Acts 13: 38-39, Romans 8:1
  2. Hebrews 4:15
  3. Galatians 4:4-5, Romans 10:4
  4. Matthew 6:14, 2 Timothy 2:15
  5. 2 Corinthians 3:18
  6. Galatians 3:10
  7. Isaiah 53:5, Romans 1:16-17
  8. Hebrews 13:5