I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:1-10). In case you’re unfamiliar, Zacchaeus was a tax collector living at the time of Jesus. He was a swindler and a crook and had quite a reputation for ripping people off and cheating them. He was enormously wealthy and extremely corrupt. To put it mildly, people were not fond of Zacchaeus! He had a lot of broken relationships. But when he met Jesus, everything changed and he willingly took steps to repair his relationships.
Some of you have broken relationships. Maybe you have a spouse that you are angry with, or kids that you feel hurt by, or parents you feel screwed you up or friendships that feel strained. Whatever the circumstances, as long as we live in a broken world, our relationships will suffer from time to time. I think there are a few lessons we can learn from Zacchaeus about mending those fractured relationships. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Sometimes, it’s not possible. There are relationships that are so toxic and damaging that it’s not possible to repair and reconcile them. But, as much as it is possible make things right.
Here are a few steps to do that:
- Admit when you’re wrong. An admission of wrongdoing goes a long way. We know this in our heads and yet sometimes our self-protective instincts are so strong that we do everything in our power to prove we’re right. Here’s the thing, following Jesus demands that we live in truth. If you’ve wronged someone – saying sharp words, stealing their dignity, falsely accusing them or assigning them motives that they may never have had – apologize. Admit you were wrong. Here’s a question for you to consider, “Why am I afraid to admit I’m wrong?” Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal to you why your self-protective instincts are so strong.
- Ask, “Will you forgive me?” Learning to ask others to forgive you is very humbling. Here’s the thing, humility is a quality that God wants to develop in your life. Don’t go to people and say, “I forgive you.” Most people aren’t even aware that they’ve hurt you and it can be prideful to say to someone, “ I forgive you” unless they’ve asked for forgiveness. Instead, learn to ask, “Will you forgive me?”When our kids were little, Steve and I noticed that after a fight their apologies were less than authentic. So we implemented a new rule. The kids had to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Friend, the truth is, too many have never asked, “Will you forgive me because they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.” I believe we can hinder the Holy Spirit’s anointing by building walls of self-protection around our hearts. If you want God’s Spirit to flow through you unhindered, spend a few moments considering this question: When was the last time I said to someone, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me”?
- Make Amends. When you make amends you compensate others for your wrongdoing. One of the ways we see a complete change in Zaccheaus is that as soon as he met Jesus He said he would pay back everyone he had cheated. That’s making amends. In your life, how do you make amends? Here’s a few examples, if you’ve hurt your kids, offer to pay for counseling. If you borrowed money and forgot to pay the person back, apologize, pay them back and then perhaps give them a bit extra since you forgot. Here’s another question to think about, have I taken initiative to make amends?
Friend, your relationships are both precious and fragile. Don’t take them for granted. If you have a broken relationship, think about admitting you were wrong, asking for forgiveness and making amends. Lord Jesus, develop in me a spirit of humility. Help me to cherish my relationships as precious and fragile. Create in me a heart of humility so that I readily admit when I’m wrong and humbly make amends.
I’d love to hear from you! Why do you think it’s so hard to apologize and admit wrongdoing? How do you think making amends helps?