“I don’t need to apologize. I did nothing wrong!” Not only have I thought these words myself, I have heard other Christians express these same sentiments.
Could not such thoughts lead us to feel justified in waiting for the other person to make the first move? What happens when each person perceives “I’m right,” and so both sides wait on the other to take the first step toward reconciliation?
Claiming “I’m innocent” can place us in a passive mode toward mending broken relationships. However, a long hard look at the cross lands us firmly on another and better path.
God was certainly innocent. We were the ones who broke the relationship by sinning. And yet, it was God who took the first step toward healing our relationship. Furthermore, although he was entirely without guilt, Jesus bore our penalty for sin by suffering an ignominious death upon the cross.
God made the first move. God placed greater value upon restoring our relationship with him than avoiding suffering an injustice. And so, Jesus died for us.
In a world of court litigation and demanding justice, Paul’s challenge to Christians remains stark, but born out of a godly concern for relationship. “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7).
To walk in this path requires placing a restored healthy relationship above objects, one’s own pride and perhaps even a just outcome. Jesus knows all about love trumping one’s own rights and justice.
We might be the ones who have suffered the wrong, but imitating God calls for “overcoming evil with good” (Romans 12:21). God’s people, because of who they are and not the worthiness of the other person, are to take the initiative demonstrating love.
We may have spoken a necessary truth, but how deeply did those words cut? Would there be anything wrong in expressing compassion? “I’m sorry my words hurt you.” Might these simple words be a first step toward healing and even their growth?
While we might be innocent in a matter, that does not relieve us from the responsibility of acting in love toward reconciliation. Unfortunately, sometimes the good guy will suffer.
God knows all about that.