The recent ball tampering scandal during the test cricket match between Australia and South Africa caused a ruckus like one not seen for a long time in the Australian and international sporting world.
This was followed in quick succession by Thermomix Australia admitting to four contraventions of consumer law before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook in a US Congressional hearing in relation to the profiles of 87 million Facebook users being sold to a political consultancy group.
People have and continue to watch and assess whether the statements made and answers offered by the respective offenders are authentic or have been made simply as a public relations exercise (or as a matter of expediency) or really are a genuine attempt to make things right.
It may be easy for us watching on to “cast the first stone” but these quite different situations played out in the public eye provide us all with a salutary reminder that when we fail others we have an opportunity to rebuild broken trust by confessing and giving a genuine apology.
But what makes a genuine apology? And how can we ensure that we make one?
None of us is immune to wrongdoing. We have all let others down.
Sometimes it is pure negligence, recklessness or inconsiderate behaviour, but on many other occasions our actions are much more intentional and deliberate. We do and say things when we know full well what we are about to do is wrong because we so desperately want something more than doing the right thing or caring about others.
So what can we do when we fail others? Can we repair broken relationships and rebuild trust?
Yes. We can. But only if we are honest with ourselves, seek to discover the internal motives behind our actions and words and then humbly and courageously make an unequivocal apology to those we have wronged.
We give our apology the best chance of being seen as genuine by those we have hurt when we fully and voluntarily acknowledge and accept specifically our selfish attitudes, words or behaviour, expressly convey how we have hurt others and show we are willing to unconditionally accept all the consequences.
If we are truly repentant, the 7A’s of Confession developed by Ken Sande in The Peacemaker help us communicate an apology well and completely to those we have wronged.
- A ddress everyone involved (all those affected)
- A void if, but and maybe (don’t try to excuse or explain away what happened!)
- A dmit specifically (both attitudes and actions)
- A cknowledge the hurt (express sorrow for the hurt caused)
- A ccept the consequences (make restitution, accept sanctions, accept that there will likely be a loss of trust for some time)
- A lter your behaviour (commit to changing your attitudes and actions)
- A sk for forgiveness (and allow time for them to consider their response)
Regardless of how our apology and confession is received by those we have wronged and the earthly consequences we may need to suffer, we know that when we confess our sins to God, because of the price paid by Him on our behalf by the death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary, justice has already been served, our wrongs are fully paid for and we are completely forgiven.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Easter is the perfect time to remember that if we accept Jesus Christ’s death in our place we are not condemned but fully forgiven and given eternal life. The good news of Easter is that Jesus died in our place so we get eternal life!
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
A full and genuine apology and confession to those we have wronged may not always be enough for those we have wronged. But how great it is to know God will always accept us and our confession to him, because of Jesus’ gift of his own life in place of our sin!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16