In preparing for this sermon I went in search of stories of reconciliation and apologies on the internet. I found some heart-warming stories of people forgiving others who had deeply wronged them or their families. I read articles on the science behind forgiveness, the art of apologizing. I saw articles about the many time politicians have had to apologize and critics on if they were done well or not....... And then I came across lists of the worst apology letters, and I mean I found some hilarious ones. Many of them from children to their parents, classmates or siblings, and there are tons of them online. And after losing about 15 hours of sermon prep browsing through them I have to share with you a few of my favorites. Now these are all real life apologiges
So in one story a man found his stolen bike returned sitting outside of his home with this letter attached:
““On Saturday April 20th I graduated from University and got” very inebriated”. After the bar it was too late to catch a bus, and I am too broke to afford A cab, So I borrowed your bike without asking, it was a lusciously smooth ride from what I remember,
Anyways I am very sorry I did not ask to borrow your bike, So I have returned it with a coupon for a free lava cake at Domino’s as an apology. Cheers, Bike Thief.”
In a local newspaper someone actually spent their time and money to have this posted in the classifieds.
“DRIVER WHO BEEPED, at me for going out of turn at a 4way stop, 13th, and Belmont, 6pm Thursday the 20th, I was wrong. You were right, sorry.”
And these last two come from teachers who took pictures of the notes written by the young students.
“Dear Olen, I’m sorry for Karate chopping you in the privates. Doing that was wrong. Your friend, Eli”
And finally my favorite and one that has become famous.
“ Dear Brody, Miss p made me write you this note. All I want to say sorry for is not being sorry . cause I tried to feel sorry but I don’t. Liam”
While each of these are funny for their own reasons we can learn from these examples of what to do, and not to do when apologzing. But the intent from any apology is to reconcile with those that you have wronged. And we all have wronged someone, probably more recently than we care to admit. Today we’re going to look at how we should respond when we have wronged someone. Which will be found in .
And in this story we will learn moral lesson about how to respond when we’ve done wrong to someone from a unlikely biblical character in Jacob. Who spent much of his life deceiveing others.
We can look at Jacob in a judemental way from lying and decieveing but you have wronged somone too. And this message is one that both you and I need.
I’m guessing that you never stole a birthright. Maybe you got frustrated a snapped at your friend, spouse, or even your child.
Maybe you failed to be there for a friend when you said that you would.
Maybe you didn’t give someone the love or respect that they deserved. Whatever is was that you did you have wronged someone in the past, and you will again in the future. In today’s text we are going to see that we should seek the forgiveness of everyone that we’ve wronged, and the three ways to do so.
And we will find this again in , starting at verse number one.
As you all know, Jacob stole the birthright from Essua by deceiving Isaac. Jacob had to fleed from the area because Essua was plotting to kill him He worked for Laban and was married to Rachel and Leah. This story is the first time they’ve seen each other after many years apart.
That’s where we are when we read
Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
So the first thing that we will see from the text is that you are to do what you can to foster reconciliation.
To understand how we got here go back one chapter with me to
He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.” He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: “When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us.’ ”
Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom. He told them, “Give this message to my master Esau: ‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban, and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.’ ”
In this passage we can see that before these two have met face to face. Jacob sent his servants ahead of him to Esua, look at the message that was sent he uses the phrase “ your servant Jacob”.
In this passage we can see that before these two have met face to face. Jacob sent his servants ahead of him to Esua to give him gifts. This is Jacob’s way of acknowledging that he has wronged Esau. Which is the first thing that you can do to foster reconciliation, apologize. An apology lets the person know that what you’ve done to them you are acknowledging that it was wrong.
If that’s your friend that you said a mean comment to in anger, or your spouse that you snapped at. let them know that you recognize you shouldn’t have treated them in that way, by giving a sincere apology.
Now please turn back to chapter 33 and look at verse 3
Now please turn back to chapter 33 and look at verse 3
Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him.
Jacob who had the birthright was in reality the master of Esua. Though he deceived Issac, we remember hearing last week that Esua sold away his birthright, with the birthright comes the postion as the leader of the family. Jacob is rightfully the master over Esua, and the greater of the two. Yet jacob bows down before Esua seven times. What is he doing here? He is humbling himself before Esua.
Look at the physical
His attempt to find forgiveness with Esau would have been less likely to have been recieved if he came to him, big and puffed up manner. Lording over him his position as the leader of the family.
When we are apologizing to someone take position of humilty even if you have a position of authority over them. Husbands don’t take any arrogant stance that since “I’m the leader of this family i don’t have to apologize for that”. Or for those moving into ministry roles, and senoir pastorships don’t think that your position of authority should keep you from admitting that you’re wrong and apologizing in a sincere and humble way. And even parents don’t be too proud to admit when you have wronged your children.
Unless you’re having to apologize everyday, which is another issue to be addressed you only gain the respect of people when you can show humility in doing what you can to foster reconciliation.
Lastly let’s look at
But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.
Since Jacob had stolen the blessing from Esua all of the wealth that he had accumulated was a result of that blessing. Knowing that he was wrong for what he did Jacob shares with Esua some of what he had been blessed with. He cannot go back and undo what he’d done to Esau. But he presents him with a gift as sort of a restitution for his wrong doing.
Whenever it’s possible perform a tangible act of kindness for the person that you’ve wronged. Offer to take your friend out to lunch, take your wife out on a date to place that you put time into thinking that she would really like, take your child to see that movie that they wanted to see, or maybe just write that person a letter letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Please don’t confuse this for a bribe, you’re not looking to buy anyone's forgiveness. But it takes your contrition to another level when it is backed by a tangible act of kindness. Esua had already shown Jacob forgiveness, yet he gave him the gift showing just how deeply sorry he was.
Some of you have seen the phenomenal movie Hotel Rwanda that came out about 10 years ago. If you did you saw a depiction of the real life story of the horrific genocides that happened in the african country of Rwanda back in 1994. Where more than 2 million people from the Tutsi tribe were killed in a genocide by the Hutu’s.
There in Rhwanda is a non-profit organization there that is counseling people from the two tribes to seek reconciliation between the two groups. Recently feattured in the New York Times magazine is the stories and portraits of some of people from the two tribes. where the perpertators of some hianous acts seeks forgiveness from people who have been the victims of some horrible atrocities. These are quotes from two of the people profiled and photographed sitting side by side.
“ : “Because of the genocide perpetrated in 1994, I participated in the killing of the son of this woman. We are now members of the same group of unity and reconciliation. We share in everything; if she needs some water to drink, I fetch some for her. There is no suspicion between us, whether under sunlight or during the night. I used to have nightmares recalling the sad events I have been through, but now I can sleep peacefully. And when we are together, we are like brother and sister, no suspicion between us.”
Now if someone that has committed an act as bad as murder can seek reconciliation by apologizing, showing humilty, and performing a tangile act of kindness. Surely you can also apologize, show humilty, and doing a tangible act for the person you’ve wronged too.
And look at the effect that his efforts had on that woman.
“He killed my child, then he came to ask me for pardon. I immediately granted it to him because he did not do it by himself — he was haunted by the devil. I was pleased by the way he testified to the crime instead of keeping it in hiding, because it hurts if someone keeps hiding a crime he committed against you. Before, when I had not yet granted him pardon, he could not come close to me. I treated him like my enemy. But now, I would rather treat him like my own child.”
Look at the power of this man’s efforts to seek reconciliation with this woman and how it helped her heal from the pain that she felt.
I challenge you to think over this next week of someone that you have offended, lost your temper with, or called a name. Maybe it’s someone in your past that you have betrayed their confidence, shared a secret they told you, or gossipped about. You know the people that you have hurt both with smaller things and were more serious hurt. Seek reconciliation with that person; apologize, do it humbly, and perform an act of kindness for them.