Repentance is an essential part of the Christian life, relational health, and maintaining an accurate view of the world. Repentance is when we quit trying to make our dysfunction “work” and embrace the life-giving alternative to our sin that God offers.
When we direct repentance towards a person we have offended we often call it an apology. For this reason, Christians should be better at apologizing than anyone else.
In the context of offense (when we are the offended party), it can be difficult to be objective about whether an apology is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, genuine or obligatory. Motives are subjective and rarely all good or all bad.
In this post, I pull from several previous posts and resources in order to try to identify the markers of a good (i.e., God-honoring) apology and markers of a bad apology (i.e., one that fails to accomplish God’s redemptive agenda after an offense). I hope these help us repent well when are the offending party and discern wisely when we are the offended party in a conflict.
7 Marks of a Good Apology
Ken Sande in Peacemaking for Families, his excellent book on conflict resolution, describes seven elements of repentance (bold text only). This outline is developed in the order that words of repentance would typically be spoken in conversation. Explanations and applications will be provided for each point.
*This material is an abbreviated excerpt from the mentoring manual for the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Communication seminar (unit 5), so while in places it has a marital focus it is applicable to any relational context.
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