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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Amending Fences”

Most of the time, we tend to think of the Bible administering guidelines for the “present”. In other words, things to do or not do right then and there. Do preach the Gospel to all nations. Don’t steal. Do be generous to the poor and destitute. Don’t murder. Do show reverence to God. Don’t commit adultery. All of that is true and important, but that’s simply to help for better living “starting from this point forward” and day-to-day activities. Christianity as a lifestyle is also, if one reads a bit more into the Bible, retroactive; dating back to before any of us became Christians. This episode illustrates a good reason for that.

After having advanced to being the Princess of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle finally had enough presence of mind to think about how she used to be and the “friends” she left behind in Canterlot, who she hadn’t even thought of or spoken to since moving to Ponyville. She understandably felt more than a little uncomfortable and guilty about so easily neglecting ponies who had been friendly and kind to her, but got an even worse bit of news when she saw one of them had ended up just like she used to be: a shut-in recluse who spent all her days studying for no other reason than to study. The worst news of all, however, was when she ended up discovering that it was a direct result of her actions; that she had been wanting to be more friendly and open to others but the one pony she invited to her birthday party, Twilight herself, snubbed her without so much as a word of not being able to make it. That her rejection had ended up making her former friend, Moondancer, feel worthless and unlovable.

As it turned out, completely unknown to Twilight Sparkle, Moondancer had been needing to hear her apologize for that event. Not to gloss over it with friendliness and kindness now, not to try and “make up for it” with a re-created event, but to acknowledge she had made a mistake, had hurt her as a result, and to express remorse for it. In other words, to say: “I’m sorry”.

In my last devotional, I addressed the need to say “thank you” to those who are unappreciated in our lives.I mentioned about how we can sometimes neglect and grow thoughtless about those who tirelessly give themselves for our benefit again and again. Yet on the flip side are those who we have casually and thoughtlessly injured in the past. Maybe we were having a bad day, maybe we were neglectful and self-absorbed (like Twilight was), maybe we were young or in a bad spot in our lives, maybe we thought we were doing good or being more responsible at the time, or maybe we were just the sort of person who was so miserable about our own lives that we took out our anger or helplessness on others to feel better about ourselves (what is colloquially referred to as being a bully). But the bottom line is we acted in a way in which we treated or mistreated someone without showing any concern for them, and we never expressed any remorse for that. Such actions can cause emotional grudges and leave scars, occasionally in situations that we ourselves thought was no big deal.

Nevertheless, an inadvertent unkind word or gesture can leave someone brooding or hurt, sometimes for years, without ever making it explicit. It’s to these people and individuals that it’s very important to say “I’m sorry”.

The best Biblical example I can find of this is a side story in 1 Samuel 25. Most people know how David fled Saul; having to live as a fugitive on the run in Israel with his band of followers for months. However, at one point when he was passing through an area called Carmel where a wealthy man named Nabal and his servants were shearing sheep, he and his followers were in need of provisions. Since David’s men had protected Nabal’s shepherds in the past while they were in the area, he figured he’d ask him to spare whatever he could provide. Yet rather than assist David, Nabal didn’t think anything of his past service and told his messengers to get lost, turning them away harshly and empty-handed.

As it turned out, his wife Abigail heard about the whole thing, quickly got a large amount of food together, and rushed out to not only give it to David but to apologize on her husband’s behalf. It was a very good thing she did…because David had gotten so enraged on hearing Nabal’s response that he was literally marching out with all of his soldiers to slaughter all of Nabal’s men when she met him. Definitely a case of thoughtlessness nearly leading to disaster…and averted by someone making a needed apology.

Of course, life doesn’t always work out well. One of the main reasons people fear to apologize when they become conscious of wrongdoing is reprisal; not only in a form of punishment but also that the apology will be rejected. And it’s true that some people do hold a grudge about some things, and perhaps there will never be reconciliation. Yet the good it can do cannot be overlooked, nor can the chance to build a relationship or display what it means to be a Christian.

I myself was bullied a lot as a child for being unathletic and fat. It was a rough time although I’ve moved past it by now. Yet even though I know those bullies were young, that they were doing what was “cool”, and likely that they didn’t think of it having much impact, and for all I know they’re perfectly nice and reasonable people now…I guarantee you that my memories of them and my opinion would be far more pleasant if I ran into one on the street and they said: “By the way, remember how I used to make fun of you when I was younger? I just wanted to finally apologize for that.”

I imagine anyone who has gone through something similar would feel the same way…because it means that a person you used to think was thoughtless and cruel not only realized how they wronged you was bad, but felt enough remorse to actually do something about it without prompting. It gives you insight into the true character of those people as well as shows that you, in fact, did “matter” to them enough to want to say sorry. In other words, it reveals that these individuals do indeed feel other people, including the ones they’ve hurt in the past, are valuable enough to them to merit caring for.

I myself can’t think of any better way to witness as a Christian; especially as an opportunity to take a past sin and turn it into something “Christ-like”. Please consider that when asking yourself if there’s anyone you need to say “I’m sorry” to this week.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for all the people you bring into my life and grant me the opportunity to be ‘as Christ’ to. Please forgive me for all the times in which I elected to do the opposite, and grant me the strength and courage to seek out those I have genuinely wronged and hurt and, wherever able, apologize for my conduct. And if there is anyone in my life who hurt me and later returned and genuinely apologized for how they did so, I thank you for that as well and ask to forgive them as you have forgiven me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”