What the Bible Says About Apologizing

"Sorry" written in skywriting above the Sydney Opera House.

butupa/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Bible has a lot to say about apologizing and confessing sins. Learning about the consequences of sins and the harm people do to others shows why apologizing is important.

Examples of Apologizing in the Bible

Jonah disobeyed God and spent time in the belly of a whale until he apologized. Job apologized to God for sins he did not know he had committed. Joseph's brothers apologized to him for selling him into slavery. In each case, the importance of adhering to God's plan is a central theme. Each story shows that God is very forgiving, and people should strive to follow in God's footsteps. Apologizing is a way of confessing sins, which is an important part of daily Christian life.

Why Apologize?

Apologizing is a way of recognizing our sins. It has a way of clearing the air between people and between you and God. When people apologize, they look for forgiveness for their sins. Sometimes, it means apologizing to God for the ways we have wronged Him. Sometimes, it means apologizing to people for what we have done to them. However, in no way can we expect forgiveness right away for the sins we have committed toward others. Sometimes, we also have to be patient and allow other people to get over their hurt feelings. Meanwhile, God can forgive whether we ask or not, but it is still the person's responsibility to ask for it.

John 4:7-8

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (NIV)

John 2:3-6

"When we obey God, we are sure that we know him. But if we claim to know him and don’t obey him, we are lying and the truth isn’t in our hearts. We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know that we belong to him. If we say we are his, we must follow the example of Christ." (CEV)

John 2:12

"Children, I am writing you, because your sins have been forgiven in the name of Christ." (CEV)

Confessing Your Sins

Confessing sins isn't always easy. No one likes to admit when they're wrong, but it is all part of the cleansing process. People should try to confess sins as soon as we recognize them, but sometimes it takes a while. We should also try to apologize as soon as possible to others, though it does mean swallowing pride and letting go of inhibitions or fears. People are responsible to one another and to God and must live up to that responsibility. Also, the sooner you confess your sins and wrongdoings, the sooner you can move on from it.

James 5:16

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (NLT)

Matthew 5:23-24

"So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." (NLT)

John 2:16

"Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father." (CEV)

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Mahoney, Kelli. "What the Bible Says About Apologizing." Learn Religions, Sep. 4, 2021, learnreligions.com/the-bible-says-about-apologizing-712777. Mahoney, Kelli. (2021, September 4). What the Bible Says About Apologizing. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/the-bible-says-about-apologizing-712777 Mahoney, Kelli. "What the Bible Says About Apologizing." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/the-bible-says-about-apologizing-712777 (accessed June 9, 2023).