Forgive & Apologize


In this message, we learn the importance of forgiving and apologizing in our relationships.

Well, hey, everyone. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. We are so excited that you guys are with us today and we want to send a special welcome to all of our campuses or wherever you may be watching online, let’s all welcome each other together. Now, today, we get the privilege to continue our healthy relationship series because at the very core of who you and I have been created to be is a desire to be in healthy relationships. But, unfortunately, overtime, this can see more like the ideal than the actual reality because we see relationships fail, we see relationships to have unmet expectations, we see people get offended, we see people get hurt, and we see relationships that don’t always end up that well. As a matter of fact, we’ve been working on my son with what is it mean to really be able to give a genuine apology to somebody when it comes to relationships? And my wife and I, we actually — we have a son named Jackson [Phonetic] and he is almost three years old. And he is the cutest son that you’ve ever seen, I promise you that, okay. He’s cute. He’s sweet. He’s kind. He’s a bit of a heartbreak already, so mind your ladies, alright? So, Jackson is adorable. But what I can tell you about Jackson is that when he goes to a restaurant, sometimes he forgets that he is any of these things, okay. When we go to a restaurant, I don’t know if you have a toddler or not, but maybe you understand if you have a toddler.

But when we go to a restaurant, it’s a bit of a test to kind of control him. And I remember we went to a local restaurant, my wife, and I, and him and we actually sat down and as we — right before we sat down, I saw this lady off to the side right as we walked in. And this lady had a skull on her face. You could tell, she didn’t want to be talk to you, didn’t want to be bothered. And so I just made him little know because my son is not good at obeying boundaries or like staying at your bubble, he doesn’t do any of that very well. And so I make him know, we sit down, we order some and yeah, I don’t remember exactly what Jackson got. But I know that they set his food down and he had some nice, greasy, golden French fries. And in a blink of an eye, my son grabs one of these French fries and jumps it across the restaurant. And so I see this guy’s golden greasy French fry flying across the restaurant, flipping in, over in, over in, until you guess it. It could it get any worse until it happen to hit the lady with the skull on her face, leaving its nice, greasy residue right here behind.

So instantly, my wife and I flip in ultimate parenting mood. We’ve been here before, we know that, man, Jackson’s he said to say apologies before, so we get Jackson ready, and we positioned him just right and we know that the only way at this situation is that if he can give the kindest and the sweetest and the most innocent apology. And I know he can do it. And so I leaned down to Jackson and say, “Jackson, you know it wasn’t kind to throw something at this young lady.” I said, you know, I’m trying to help, okay. I’m just being honest. And I said, “I need you to apologize and to say sorry.” And so he’s looking up at me and then he looks at the lady, he looks back at me and smiles and then he looks back at the lady, still smiling. She thinks this a good thing but I know this is not a good thing. None of it. And so I said, “Jackson, why don’t you go and tell her you’re sorry, okay, son. Please, come on.”

He looks at her smiling big as life and goes roar, growling in his biggest lion guard he can possibly do and he runs off and my wife has to, of course, chase him. And so I’m with there standing in front of the lady with the skull on her face and I’ve got no excuse to say. I’m like what do I say to this lady? Do I say, hey, great throw, right? Or do I say, hey, are you going to eat that, no. I stand there and then — the only thing I could think of is, whose kid was that? Wasn’t my kid? See, relationships can be very difficult. Have you ever been in that situation, not the exact situation, but where you know that you’re the one that’s in the wrong, where you know that you’re the one that’s causing offense to somebody but it’s just hard to bring yourself to apologize. See, if you’re anything like me, sometimes I’d rather work on a defense as opposed to working on a significant apology to be able to give to somebody. And we talked about forgiving in a church a lot, which I think is great, of course.

It’s important. But we rarely talk about apologizing. And as a matter of fact, now we do a rarely talk about apologizing but I think we actually are very good at it sometimes. And if you would have long, healthy relationships, you’re going to have to be really good at apologizing. And that’s actually our main idea today is that our willingness to humbly apologize is key to healthy relationships. If you remember at the very beginning of the year and we remind you the past couple of weeks that we’ve been working on memorizing Ephesians 4, Chapter — Ephesians 4, Verse 29 through 5:2. And in that passage, if you remember, it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building others up that had made — building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit for whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Just get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, and any form of malice.”

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ God has forgiven you. Be imitators of God as dearly loved children, living a life of love, living a life of what Jesus Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Now, the focus on Verse 32. Verse 32 says to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another just as Christ God has forgiven you. Now, I want to remind this, the true forgiveness is to be able to cancel the debt and credit the account. When Jesus where — and he died on the cross for us. He didn’t just pay for our debt, but he said, “I want to take all your sin, I want to take all your brokenness, all your shame, I’m going to take that from you and I want to give you all of my righteousness.” See, Jesus forgiveness was both intentional and it was costly. Now, I know that Jesus never had to apologize to anybody because he never messed up, he didn’t sin, of course. But if we’re to forgive as Jesus did, then our apologies must also be intentional and sometimes costly.

So today what we’re going to do is we’re going to look at one of the most common unhealthy relationships that exist. That’s an unhealthy relationship in the very middle of a family and specifically with two brothers. Two brothers were — there’s one brother that is clearly in the wrong and there’s another brother who is clearly, deeply, deeply hurt. And what happened is they don’t talk to each other for 20 years. As a matter of fact, they live completely separate lives because of the deep hurt that exist between the two of them. And so what I want you to do is I want you to turn to Genesis Chapter 27, and we’re going to jump to Verse 34 in just a moment. But before we do that, I would like you to know who the characters are today. Now, first we have the father in this story and the father’s name, his name is Isaac. Now, if you remember the story of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac was the son then but now he’s going to be the father in this story. So we have Isaac and then we have the mother and her name is Rebekah and they have two sons, they have twins. I can barely keep up of one, let alone two.

So they have twins named Jacob and Esau. Now, Esau happens to be the favorite and he is the oldest. He happens to be the favorite of the father and the youngest, Jacob, happens to be the favorite of the mother. And so Jacob and Esau they have a life, there has a lot tension that exist between the two of them. And I want to take you to a moment that is kind of what I like to call the straw that breaks the camel’s back type of moment. And so we have the mother in this picture and she goes into the youngest son, Jacob, and says, “Hey, Jacob, I think you should go to your father. I think you should deceive him and I think you should get the blessing that he was going to give to your brother I think you should get it for yourself.” And I want to explain to you why that’s important. He ends up doing that but it’s important because whenever the patriarch gave a blessing to his children, he was doing two different things, there’s a couple other things that he do is primarily be giving what their inheritance would be and he is releasing authority for after he is gone as it carry on the family name. So it’s a pretty significant deal to take somebody else as inheritance and authority, right?

So he takes those things and what happened in this story as we picked up is that right as the father and the oldest son, right as they figured out what’s going, that’s what we’re going to pick in Verse 34. So Genesis 27 Verse 34 it says this, it says, “When Esau heard his father’s word, he burst out with a loud and a bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, me too, father.’ But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’ Esau said, ‘Isn’t he rightly named Jacob?’” Because Jacob means deceiver. Says, “This is the second time he has taken advantage of me, he took my birthright, and now he is taken my blessing.” Anybody that looks at the story, they know that the youngest brother is actually the one — or is the one that’s in the wrong. He takes something from very obvious. He — we all know that he should be the one that should be apologizing to his older brother, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t for 20 years and they have a degree of separation. And I think it reminds us today of this, relationships are hard, but relationships in the middle of the family can be very, very tough.

And their relationship wasn’t just not good, it was broken. Perhaps you know what it’s like to feel a relationship in the middle of your family that’s broken. For Jacob and Esau, their story doesn’t end here, thankfully. Their story continues. This is just the beginning of their story because eventually the youngest brother, he comes to his senses, he goes back to the oldest brother and he just goes to make amends. And we’re going to pick up at the very end of the story in a little back track a little bit more. So let’s look at Genesis Chapter 33, we’re going to start in Verse 1. This is right as the youngest brother is going to give an apology, it says, “Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his 400 men.” If that’s not intimidating as you go to give an apology for somebody that wants to kill, 400 men. And says, “So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants.”

It says, “And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children and Rachel and Joseph last of all.” It says, “He himself went on before them bowing himself to the ground, not once, not twice but seven times until he came near to his brother.” But Esau ran to meet him and he embraced him, he felt on his neck and kissed him, and it says, “And they wept.” So we see right here two brothers that have a significant amount of turmoil between the two of them. But because of Jacob, the youngest brother, because of his intentional humble apology, we see a moment of restoration. We actually see and embrace his — if it’s closing a very chapter of their lives between the brokenness that exist between the two of them as they hold each other and they weep. But we all know this probably didn’t happen overnight. There’s a 20-year gap in between there.

And so what we’re going to do today is we’re going to look at what I think — there’s four primary things on why Jacob went from no desire to build — to reconcile with his brother to going and humbly apologize. And I think there are four things that we can practically use for our lives today. And the first one is this, the first one is to pray. Seemed like the obvious first answer but sometimes I feel like prayer is our last resort when it should be our first resort. But I want us to look at Genesis 32:11. This is Jacob’s prayer. This is Jacob’s prayer to God. He says, “Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, rightfully so.” It says, “That he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, I will surely do you good and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered.” Now, we see here that Jacob’s prayer, it was a prayer for deliverance, and he might have said other things, he might have desired for some type of humility or courage or the — just to be able to step in to that situation. But what I find it’s interesting here is that Jacob invited God into his mess.

Toward God was no longer the afterthought but God begin to lead his thoughts. And I believe that in this moment that Jacob began to take his first step toward a humble apology with his brother. See, for me in life, and maybe I don’t have somebody chasing me that was wanting to kill me, but I can tell you that I had a moment where I thought the very same of where I needed to pray before giving a humble apology. It takes me back to when I was 16 years old, okay. I got my very first car. It’s a 1988 Honda Civic maroon on the outside, maroon on the inside, it was like 15 years old, it was perfect. I love that car. The whole week I had it. Alright, so — Why are you laughing? I mean this is rude. You guys should apologize. I’m just kidding. So — but you’ll know how at the very end, okay? So what I did is I had this 1988 Honda Civic and I remember I stayed late for a class project. And it had been snow a little bit earlier that day but thankfully, most snow was on all gone and I wasn’t too worry I live few minutes away from my house.

And so I get in my car and have to take a little bit of the corner at the angle that’s a little less and ideal, right? So I don’t quite make it through the turn and I made to slam my car into the curve, very cool, right? And so I slammed my car into the curved and I got out of the car, I assess the damage, I’m okay because we’re barely going fast at all, as in we weren’t going fast at all. But I assessed it and I realized, you know what, aside from these butterflies that are in my stomach at this moment, I probably need to pray, you know why? Because I got to tell my parents [Laughs]. So I remember that I stood there and my prayer looks something like this, “Dear God, I may see you face to face today. God, let my parents be gracious and God I kind of need a new car.” Thankfully, I survived this conversation and my prayer might have been a little of desperation as well. But I know that I needed to be reminded of verses like Jeremiah 29:12 that says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,” and it says, “And I will listen to you.”

And I like that verse suits today because your good father desires to be with you as you seek out a healthy relationships. And as you have opportunities to humbly apologize to others. The second thing that we’re going to learn from Jacob today is to remember who you are. Let’s be honest, I don’t always want to apologize to somebody. There’s sometimes I really just have no desire to. Like you’re supposed to be spiritual. There’s times that I don’t desire to be able apologize to somebody. And that’s how Jacob started his story. That’s how the younger brother started his story. And so what I want us to do is I want us to look at Genesis 32:28, which is going to tell us a little bit of the story of why Jacob shifted from no desire to apologize, to desire and to apologize. This is God speaking to Jacob in one — I would consider a marker stone type of moment. And it says, “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel, because you have struggled with God, with humans and have overcome.”

And so this dialog takes place and it’s something very significant because Jacob’s name meant deceiver, okay. And so God is saying that your name shall no longer be called deceiver but your name shall be called Israel. And that’s important be Israel meant overcomer. Jacob began his whole life being called a deceiver. We say it here frequently that identity perceives activity. And so because he was called the deceiver, that’s what he did, he deceived. What do people call you? Who is it — it says your identity? See, God reminded Jacob, he said, “Jacob, you’re not the deceiver but you are an overcomer.” See, I think that’s what the same thing that Romans 8:37 is where we can claim the same type of principle that says in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. See, when we understand our identity, that’s when our relationships would be the most healthy when we know our identity fully in Christ. You know, identity isn’t declared by the world, that’s who you are but it’s named by the king. And the king calls you a conqueror. The king calls you a conqueror in your relationships. And so when it comes to healthy relationships, you can be a conqueror in your healthy relationships and you can’t be a conqueror when it comes to apologizing. That’s would God calls you. As a matter of fact, I think there’s some in this room that you see to be able to receive that within your spirit that I am called to be a conqueror. Know who you are. We know who we are, it affects what we do. You are a conqueror today. The third thing that we can learn from Jacob is to come humbly. I want everybody say come humbly.

Alight. We — I want us to say that because this is probably one of my least favorite ones and it maybe one of yours too. As a matter of fact, when conflict comes out whether to point out what’s wrong with somebody else and what’s wrong with myself. But 1 Peter 5:5 reminds us of this. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders, clothe yourselves all of you with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Now remember that grace is the undeserved favor of God. So when we clothe or we walk in humility, it unlocks more grace in our life. See, we see this play out in a significant way in — back in Genesis and this is the last time that we’ll look at the story in Genesis Chapter 33. And this is where — in Genesis Chapter 33 right before the apology and it says this, it says, “When Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Then the servants they drew near, they and their children, and they bow down. Leah likewise and her children drew near and they bowed down. And Joseph and Rachel drew near, and as you guess it, they bowed down too.”

So we see this whole family that Jacob comes with. And they bowed down well before they get to Esau because Jacob went first to humble himself. But what I find it interesting is that because Jacob said — because of his humility he set ripples of impact into his family, why? Because of his intentional humble apology. Humility is rarely highlighted but it’s always felt. When you know your identity — humility is the walking out of understood identity. It’s felt in your job, its felt at home, its felt with your kids, its felt everywhere you go, and for Jacob, it was felt for himself first and for his family second. When he chose to come humbly, he invited the grace in his life, he invited the grace in his life to be able to reconcile with his brother. He invited the grace in his life to be able to have healing with his brother. And he invited the grace in his life to where he could see true, genuine restoration with his brother. It isn’t always happen that way but I can — I can tell you that there was an extensive amount of grace that was shown to Jacob in this moment. Here’s the deal. If we don’t have humility, we can say all the right things on how to apologize and it’s worthless. And you know this would be true. We’re going to play little game, alright. Let’s just pretend that it’s not just Texas in 155 degrees every day, okay?

It’s fair. Let’s jut pretend it’s a little colder outside like 60 [Laughs]. Let’s just pretend we have a nice, beautiful roof 44, look at the sky, loads of ice in there, okay? Loads of ice, water, cold as can be, cold as water you’ve ever had. And let’s just pretend that you happen to dump that in the person’s head sitting right next to you, okay? Let’s pretend that. Okay, you look at that person, make sure you know who you’re talking too, okay. Alright. Let’s just pretend that there’s a lot of more people smiling than it should be right now. And let’s just pretend you did that. And we could have two different apologies that would take place. We could have the one that’s not humble, that’s more like, “Hey, sorry about that water.” “Hey, I hope it doesn’t ruin your iPhone or watch, whatever it is, but sorry about that.” No one is really going to like that too much. Or I could go humbly and say, “Hey, I am so sorry that I dumped that cup of water on you. I was wrong, I apologize. Will you forgive me?” Not enough to believe me but I can tell you that that if I come with a humble apology, it postures me for reconciliation. And so when we come with humility, it postures us for reconciliation. And when we come humbly, it also helps us do this last point. And the last point is this, is to take full responsibility. The fourth and final thing that Jacob did was he took full responsibility. It could have been really easy for Jacob as the younger brother to shift blame and say that it’s somebody else’s false fault that actually deceived my father. And it could have been really interesting because it was the mother that said go and deceive your father. It was actually the mother that said, “Hey, you should go out, kill an animal, you should take that fur, you should put it on your arms in that way because Esau wasn’t very good.”

“You should put it in you arms so that you will feel like your brother,” because his brother was a hairy man, he wasn’t. It was actually his mom that said, “I want you to go and I want you to put on the clothes that your brother wears so that you will smell and you feel like your brother.” He could easily shifted the blame, but what did Jacob do? He took full responsibility. And not only that, he went so far as to bring his whole family. And bowed down and humble himself in spite of looking at 400 men that will be coming toward him. Because he believed that he could take full responsibility for what he had done. We don’t typically want to hurt somebody whenever we offend somebody or upset somebody. But when we do, let’s not just try to get past it, let’s own our part and take full responsibility. So my — your question you may be asking is, okay, what is a humble apology look like, how should I do that? I’m so glad you asked.

I’m going to give you two do’s and two don’ts, okay. So the first do is, do apologize immediately. We can always think of a different or a better time to apologize, right? There’s always a better time, maybe we can put it off but apologize immediately. I guarantee you that Jacob’s apology didn’t become easier after 20-year gap that took place in between. And so whatever tension that you’re experiencing between whoever it may be that you need to apologize to, it just stays there until it’s addressed, so apologize immediately. That’s the do. And the second do, is do be specific, be specific. When we give generic apology that shows — says we really don’t care too much, and I’m going to help us on how to be specific, okay. So I’m going to give you just a little bit of a script that may help you. You may use it, you may not but the script goes something like this. It says, “I apologize.” Well I just can’t — I should know the script, I should know it. I am sorry for whatever that specific thing is, I’m sorry I didn’t mow the grass.

I’m sorry I gave you $5 when I owed you $20. Like I’m sorry for the specific thing, I was wrong, I apologize. Will you forgive me? We could give a couple examples, maybe make it more fun for you or I’m so sorry that I talked behind your back. That’s may be not as fun. Or I’m so sorry that I told your kids the truth about Santa. That’s maybe a little bit more fun, okay. You can use this script to help yourself be able to guide it to where you can take full responsibility for you part. So that’s be specific. Now, we’re going to get to the don’ts, right? So don’t use these three words. Don’t use and, if or but. I’ve used all of these at one point in time. And so thankfully, I’m learning and growing but — I’m going to highlight this to you on why you don’t want to use these words. Let’s just say I think you and I say, I’m so sorry, if you took what I said as offensive but that’s not what I meant. Oh, I’d done that one. That’s not a real apology. Or If I were to say, I’m so sorry that my son hit you with that French fry. But he’s going to be a great baseball player, you watch.

That’s not an apology. Or If I were to say, I’m so sorry that I’ve upset you but I think you also — and I think you also owe me an apology. That’s not an apology. And the reason those aren’t apologies is because they don’t take full responsibility. And they’re certainly not coming humbly. It’s not the intent of our words that matters. It’s the impact. So lastly, don’t try to plead your case. When you try to plead your case, it just makes every situation worse. Don’t try to plead your case, own your part, move on, take your full responsibility, so that you can move forward in your relationship. So let’s just pause for a minute and think, how do these steps actually play out? Let’s just say theoretically you upset somebody at work, home, whatever that may be, you can — spouse, fill in the blank.

You upset somebody, you said something that you didn’t mean and it was kind of offensive and you just caught up in the heat of the moment, you said something that was wrong. And so if I were to want to go apologize then this is kind of the steps that I would take to be able to do that. I would first — I would start to pray, right? We started with prayer, right? And I would say, “God, I know that I need to be able to apologize to somebody because I’ve really messed up on this one. And so God, I pray you can remind me who I am and what my identity is within you. God, I pray that you can help me to be humble as I go and talk to them. And, Lord lastly, I just pray that you can show me all the areas that I needed to take full responsibility for everything that I have done.” Remember, this isn’t about what anybody else has done. This is about you part. “So God, show me what it is that I need to take full responsibility for.” And then you get to the person and it looks something like this. “I am so sorry that I said that said to you. I know that there is no part of me that should have said that. I apologize for saying anything that may have hurt your feelings.”

“I just ask that you will forgive me in what I’ve said.” So that’s an apology. It’s simple. We can all do it. We can all do it. And I think that Jacob mould it well even though it took him 20 years. But I think that there’s a lot that we can learn from that because sometimes things tend to lasts a little bit longer than we anticipate. As a matter of fact, whenever I was — when I first started dating my wife, we had our very Valentine’s Day, very first Valentine’s Day, super excited, well, I wasn’t super excited, I guess, but you’ll find that out. But what happened is that my wife, she got me a gift and I was excited about the gift, I guess. So she got me a gift and for whatever reason, Valentine’s Day came. And you guessed it, Valentine’s Day went. And I didn’t do anything. A lot of times I’m good at details. This one I missed. So fellas as a reminder, Valentine’s Day is like seven, eight months away.

It’s in February, February 14th, don’t miss it, okay. Alright. So that’s just a side — no, it has nothing to do with the message but that’s for you fellas, right? You need that. Alright. So I missed it. And my wife, she was kind and gracious to me. And she just let me know, she said, “Hey, Joseph, you — like I kind of expected that we do something, or that you would give me something,” like she’s being super kind like I deserve a lot worse than this. And so she’s being really kind. And unfortunately, I didn’t respond well. I gave her my excuse and as a matter of fact, I didn’t apologize at all. And so, what — I already hurt my wife. The pain that was already there was further perpetuated because I let it linger. I didn’t apologize. Eventually, I came to my senses but I’ll tell you, there was a time where we had tension right there that exist and the longer that I don’t address it, the longer it stays and the harder it becomes to get rid of it.

And so my question for us today is, what are you allowing willingly to stay in your life that lingers in your relationships and at what cost? Guys, we all desire to be in healthy relationships. And God desires for you to be in healthy relationships too. But for Jacob and Esau, it cost them 20 years of absolutely no relationship because they didn’t humbly apologize. Now, I’d be willing to bet, there’s some of us in this room that have somebody that’s already on our mind on who we need to go first and then humbly apologized too. But I think we should be all asking God the question. I hope you’ll be asking the Holy Spirit the question, who is it that I need to humbly apologize to, because our willingness to humbly apologize is key to healthy relationships for you but we have to take the steps.

Let’s pray of us. So God, I thank you. God, I thank you that you cared deeply about our relationships. And so, Lord, I just pray that you can continue to prompt people on our heart and our mind on who needs to receive an apology from us. God, it’s not always easy to come humbly. It’s not always easy to take full responsibility but God I know that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do that extremely well. So God, highlight those things to us in our mind so we can take our next step, our journey with you. Amen.

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