By Ray Littlefield
It was a few minutes after sunrise as I approached the very familiar 4-way stop sign intersection close to where I was living. I stopped, and when it was my turn, started to proceed. A vehicle was approaching from my left (the West) and it continued straight through the intersection without even slowing down. I took evasive action, barely avoided being t-boned, and laid on my horn.
I decided to follow the offending vehicle (a pickup truck) and did so for a mile or so until it parked in front of a house in a residential neighborhood. As I exited my vehicle to speak to the driver, it became apparent that he was a contractor ready to work on a client’s home. I believe he knew that he had cut me off and had seen me following him.
I was still somewhat angry and said, “You had a stop sign back there”. He replied that he was unfamiliar with the intersection and that the rising sun was in his eyes (likely true). I was thinking, “Okay, with your excuses and a little more than a couple of bucks, I can get a coffee.” He then said, for me those special, powerful, healing words, “Sorry about that”. My anger dissipated like air from a punctured tire.
Saying “I am sorry” to others (and to God) when I have sinned, and hearing “I am sorry” from others who have offended me, are both a big deal. It can open the door for forgiveness, a fundamental tenet of Christianity. I am not suggesting that someone must apologize to us before we forgive them; sometimes that happens, but not all the time. We are called to forgive, with or without receiving an apology.
Jesus taught forgiveness, and that repentance will lead to our forgiveness from God. Colossians 1:14 states “…we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. He also taught that we forgive others, for whatever they do, as many times as necessary.
Jesus set a very high standard for us when hanging on the cross; in Luke 23:34 he prayed “Father, forgive them…” I don’t think he received an apology first.