Obama said in an interview with NBC News, “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.”
The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin called it “an unusual act of contrition for a president who has come under heavy criticism for misleading the public.” The Wall Street Journal’s Colleen McCain Nelson wrote, “Mr. Obama said he had intended to make good on his pledge but the administration wasn’t as clear as it should have been in describing the changes the new health law would bring.”
Yes, everyone from presidents and kings to parents and teachers say things they later regret. In fact, few can honestly say there is no one in their past to whom they do not owe an apology. As author David Augsburger said, “Since nothing we intend is ever faultless, and nothing we attempt ever without error and nothing we achieve without some measure of finitude and fallibility we call humanness, we are saved by forgiveness.”
Do you agree? Owing someone an apology can be a heavy burden to carry around. The guilt of exercising poor judgement or hurting someone can be haunting. But forgiveness can make it all go away. This makes it all the more important to practice forgiveness and learn to be good at it. As author Bryant McGill wrote, “There is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love.” Yes, love is inherent in being able to forgive. So is compassion.
Jesus Christ taught a vital lesson about forgiveness at Matthew 18:23-35. He said, “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who decided to check on his servants’ accounts. He had just begun to do so when one of them was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. The servant did not have enough to pay his debt, so the king ordered him to be sold as a slave, with his wife and his children and all that he had, in order to pay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before the king. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay you everything!’ The king felt sorry for him, so he forgave him the debt and let him go.
“Then the man went out and met one of his fellow servants who owed him a few dollars. He grabbed him and started choking him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he said. His fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!’ But he refused; instead, he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very upset and went to the king and told him everything.
“So he called the servant in. ‘You worthless slave!’ he said. ‘I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. You should have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you.’ The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount.” And Jesus concluded, “That is how my Father in heaven will treat every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” — Good News Translation.
Did you notice that the king did not force this unforgiving slave to go back and show his fellow servant mercy? No, he did exactly to him what the unforgiving slave did to his fellow man. He withheld mercy. Think about it. Every day we owe God countless apologies for our deliberate and unintentional sins. We are constantly in His debt. There is no way we can pay off this mounting debt.
God gladly forgives our debts. But there is one condition. Jesus said at Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” — New International Version.
Did you know God’s mercy toward you is based on your ability to forgive others? There is no way around this. We can excel in generosity, faith and righteous deeds, but if we do not learn how to forgive “from your heart,” we are not promised forgiveness. Instead, we are promised to be held accountable.
People can tell when an apology accepted is insincere. Resentment is hard to disguise — the fake smile, lack of eye contact, silence and keeping one’s distance. You know it. They know it. And God knows. Why not let the person off the hook for everyone’s sakes? You’ll feel better, they’ll feel better and God will feel better about you. Then you can pray as Jesus taught at Matthew 6:12: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” — King James Version.
Think of how guilt can weigh you down, slow you up and pain your conscience. Then think of the person who lifts you up, forgives your errors, convinces you that all is forgiven! How wonderful did that feel? Well, God offers us everlasting forgiveness and everlasting life under His everlasting care. But to get forgiveness we must give it — and keep giving it!
Whether we have a high position or a low position in life, learning to apologize and being willing to accept the apologies of others will help us secure a favored position with Almighty God.
So learn to forgive. Offer it freely to all as Christ did — even on occasions when it is not asked (Luke 23:34). Then, and only then, in the sight of God, will you truly be debt free.