How Sorry Are We? – Greg Albrecht


Were we to take our cues from Hollywood on the topic of being sorry, apologizing and seeking forgiveness, we might remember the message from a 1949 Western movie titled “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” in which John Wayne’s character says, “Never apologize and never explain—it’s a sign of weakness.”

Or, if we persist in consulting movie “wisdom,” we might remember the line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” from the classic 1970 tale “Love Story.”

With “apologies” to John Wayne, the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that making amends is incredibly important. As Christ-followers grow in Christ, we learn to apologize more readily. The gospel is about “no-matter-what” love—it’s about forgiveness over and over again. That teaching turns our world upside down.

With “apologies” to the classic movie “Love Story,” love means always being willing to admit our shortcomings and sins, and it means regularly saying we are sorry.

• If you have ever received a genuine apology, you know how healing a genuine apology can be.

• If you have ever given a genuine apology, you know how difficult it is to give a genuine apology.

Even when people use the word “sorry,” how often do they really mean it? When we say “sorry,” how sorry are we?

Apologies humble us—when we apologize, our image of who we are is diminished. A true apology means giving something up. It means we might lose something material or financial and it means that our pride may be damaged.

That’s why it is far easier to live in denial—to reconstruct reality and rewrite history about what we believe, which is nothing but a convenient lie about what really happened.

It is far easier for us to accuse another person of being a sorry excuse for a human being than it is for us to seriously consider our own flawed and broken condition.


While we all yearn to hear authentic apologies, we often hear counterfeit apologies—counterfeit apologies are no apology at all. Here are just three examples of counterfeit apologies:

• “Oh, you were upset by something I said? I was only kidding.”

Even a slip of the tongue can often reveal a speaker’s true motive or intention. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said that the mouth speaks what is already present in the heart.

How sorry can someone be if all they can say is, “I was only kidding,” when someone lets them know how much their words hurt?

• “I’m sorry if you misunderstood what I was trying to say—that wasn’t what I meant.”

This lame justification has someone shifting blame back to us because according to them, it was our fault for not understanding them as we should have. It is a far, far different thing to say “I’m sorry, I probably did not explain and express myself adequately.”

• “I’m sorry IF I offended you. I apologize IF you got the wrong impression from something I said or did.”

Notice how all three “non-apology apologies” are actually subtle accusations that the other person somehow failed. “Non-apology apologies” are classic exercises in blame-shifting, a backhanded sorry excuse that lays blame totally on the person who was so sensitive they were offended.

A powerful illustration for such sorry excuses for apologies comes from a comic strip called “Pearls Before Swine.” The rat in the comic strip says to his friend, the pig, “I’m going to start apologizing to all the people I have insulted by telling them ‘I’m sorry that you were offended.’”

His friend the pig asks him, “Is that a real apology?”

The pig responds, “No. That’s what’s so great about it. It allows me to retain the impact of the original insult while tacking on the implied bonus insult of ‘You are an insensitive ninny.’”

Vague and incomplete apologies are meaningless because the person who was wronged realizes that the person who caused the offense and pain takes no responsibility for causing it.


Counterfeit apologies are essentially non-sorrowful apologies. Counterfeit apologies use the word “sorry”
but reveal that the offender is really not sorry at all.shifting, a backhanded sorry excuse that lays blame totally on the person who was so sensitive they were offended.

Click Here to Continue Reading:

Please share:
Share by Email