An apology often goes further than an explanation

Agreement

 

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Such a powerful Scripture.  How can we walk together if we are not in agreement? How can we walk together in a unified way in our marriages, families, friendships, ministries, churches or working relationships if we are not in agreement with each other?  Growing up in Church I heard often about how we are to love and forgive each other and that’s true because God’s Word tells us that.  The reality is, however, that we are people–often broken and wounded from the various situations we’ve lived and experienced.  We are people who are flawed, and imperfect who at times are easily offended, defensive and right fighters.  We are people who are loving and kind but also can be emotional and project our hurts out toward each other.  Why am I addressing this?  Because I think the sad reality is that we’ve not heard enough in the Christian community on how to handle conflict with each other; how to address situations that arise. How do we discuss a situation even if we disagree, and how to respond and react to each other without it becoming a serious conflict?

Please stay with me…

Some people say, I don’t like addressing problems, I avoid them. I claim up and just feel what I feel but stay silent.  Others, more like me, are the kind that believes that certain things we can remain silent about and other things we need to address with the person(s) in a respectful, caring and direct way. After living clammed up about the abuse I endured and other hurtful things in my past, I had to learn how to have a voice for Lisa and to support others in doing the same as women.   You probably fit in one of those categories as well.  I firmly believe that there are some things we must walk away from but other situations we must address. The key is how do we address them in a manner that is pleasing to God; in a manner that will bring resolution not dissolution of relationships. The key is also knowing when to say something and when to be silent.  It makes me think of Amos 3:3, walking in agreement.

Can we walk this Christian life together and not be in agreement with each other and what does it mean to be agreed?  The short answer is I don’t believe we can walk this journey together without being in agreement with each other but I also think we have to be willing to examine what agreement does not mean and what it does mean. You may feel differently and that’s ok but let’s look at just a few examples below:

What agreement does not mean:

  • We must always agree with each other on every situation, topic or circumstance.
  • We must hide our feelings, be afraid to confront situations that arise between us and be fake to “keep the peace”
  • We need to be who and what pleases people
  • We have to say yes to everything asked of us to the point of burn out in order to prove that we are kind, caring and putting the needs of others first.
  • We have to change the “other” person.

What agreement does mean:

  • Being willing to hear the heart of another person when conflict arises without becoming defensive and right-fighting. Even if we don’t agree on the situation let’s agree that we may be filtering the details differently but be willing to hear each other.
  • Being transparent with your feelings even though this can be very difficult!!! I speak from experience.  It requires vulnerability and that can mean further hurt for you because you can be transparent about how you feel, the other person not receive it well and possibly react based on their own hurt feelings.  What I find is that asking God what to say and what not to say, when to speak and when to be silent is the best. Let Him do the leading.  Pray for yourself and those you may have a conflicting situation with so that God can get in the middle of it quickly.
  • You can have a conflicting situation without allowing it to become a conflict between you and the other person but it’s a decision you both have to make that you will address the problem with a heart to resolve rather than addressing each other in an attacking way.  Remember who the REAL BATTLE is with. Ephesians 6:10-13.
  • Be a God pleaser–behaving in ways that show we have Christ alive in us and when we fail to do so, and we all fail at times, then be quick to realize that without offense and then, apologize. Easy to do? No. But doable with God’s help.
  • Saying yes to each other when we know God is leading that yes.  Agreement means accepting when someone says, I can’t do this at this time. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you or approve of you and what you are doing, it just means at this point in my life, the answer has to be no not yes to what you are asking of me.  So often, people feel that if they don’t say YES to everything that we’re not being good Christians. I remember when I felt that way long ago. Where is that in the Bible?  Burn out is what comes from saying yes to everything. Follow God’s leading.
  • Agreement means I won’t try to change or fix you when I can’t even change or fix myself without God’s help.  Let’s release each other to God because we are His workmanship not each others (Ephesians 2:10).  We should pray for each other and when someone is open to receiving sound counsel, then give it to each other but other than that; we are not God so let’s surrender ourselves to Him for what needs to be done in our own lives and the lives of others.

A huge awareness that I’ve learned in my adult years, and the Holy Spirit often reminds me of, is that an apology often goes further than an explanation. We all want to explain how we feel, what we feel, and why we feel what we feel. Sometimes that’s necessary and should be shared in a respectful way. Then there are times when an apology along with an explanation is needed.  But there are times when the greatest way to handle conflict before it gets out of hand is to apologize, genuinely.  Hopefully the other person will be able to receive it with the intention in which it was offered.

Being quick to resolve without being (defensive or offensive), often prevents relationships from dissolving.  I have been reminded of that as of late as well.  It’s awesome when we try not to miss an opportunity to seize the moments and experiences in our lives (good and bad), and use them to glean and grow as Christians.

Agreement doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything but it does mean handling our conflicts in a manner that keeps us in unity.

Psalm 133: 1-3 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head,    running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

What speaks to me heart in that passage above is how good and pleasant it is when we dwell in unity and how the LORD has commanded the blessing on that forevermore.  Boy does that tells us what unity means to God in the body of Christ. We are works in progress. Not one of us has this walk down packed. We all need God. We all need each other. Let me leave you with the following passage:

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

That speaks to me Grace! Extending grace to each other in agreements and disagreements. Let’s walk with grace. I sure need it. I bet you do to. This message was hard to write and it’s hard to live but we can do it with all humility and grace in God desiring to please Him.  Thanks for visiting with me today.

Blessings,

Lisa Shaw

It’s Word filled Wednesday at the Woman to Woman Ministries. I happen to be one of their newest magazine contributors and I think they are the real deal for supporting women in their faith so I pray you’ll check them out at the button below.

8 Responses to An apology often goes further than an explanation

  1. Lisa, this is a wonderful post, I have a very hard time with confrontation, even when it is one of those times where it is needed. Just as much as I am learning that sometimes I need to offer an apology not an explanation, I also need to accept an apology without an explanation. Thank you for this encouragement. And thank you for linking up with Woman to Woman. God bless you friend.

    • Jenifer, I understand. One of the things God had to teach me (and still reminds me often), was that I can confront without being confrontational but unfortunately I can’t control how the other person will receive what I’m sharing with them about how I feel or my experience in the situation. When a conflict arises, it becomes confrontational if we allow it.

      Yes, putting into practice apologizing without explanation but also receiving an apology without explanation are so important for us. Often difficult but doable with God’s help.

      Thanks for your comments and for being a blessing! I think if we, as women in the faith, talked more about this subject, we may learn how to handle situations that arise between us in a manner that pleases God.

      Love ya!

  2. “Let’s release each other to God because we are His workmanship not each others (Ephesians 2:10).”
    Powerful words of truth, Lisa. No one lives them better than you, friend. You are a peacemaker in all the right kinds of ways – speaking truth in love and without compromise. Thank you for shining the bright light of truth, even when it hurts. Love you.

    • I speak those same words of love back to you Elaine. I’m determined to walk His word with excellence and when I fail, and I often do, I determine to get back up and back in the race for His glory. Love you my friend! You’re a true example of friendship.

  3. well, this is a sore spot for me. i speak the truth and my intention is in love – but its not received that way. But God is working on me, esp how you phrase it – an apology often goes farther than an explanation.
    Thank you for this post.

    • HI Nylse, thanks for your comment. I’m sure it’s a sore spot for most of us. Even when our intentions our sincere, what we say, even when said with love, can be perceived by another person in a negative way. That’s because we all bring different filters to the table and that is from our experiences. I will be writing on that next. The key is for us to truly clothe ourselves, as the Bible says, with kindness and gentleness and all humility, when we do, we will be more apt to hear the heart of another person without getting so easily offended. It’s a rough road at times doing this thing we call life, and that’s ok because we are all a work in progress with God’s hands on us–molding and making us into the image of HIs Son more and more. Blessings to you!

  4. Lisa, what an inspiring article. Apologies after disagreements can be so difficult. I need to do some studying on 1 Peter 3:8 myself. Thanks for that direction! I love your blog – Kim Stewart (AWI volunteer).

    • HI Kim, yes, you are so right that apologies after disagreements can be very difficult but they can also bring about quicker healing between two people. 🙂 It’s killing that fleshly part of ourselves that does NOT want to yield to saying, “I’m sorry” especially if we don’t believe we were wrong or if we are afraid that the other person will take further advantage of our vulnerability. Thanks for sharing and 1 Peter 3:8 is a keeper!!! 🙂 I’ll have to visit with you over at AWI. Blessings!

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