I raised four boys. You can probably imagine that there were a lot of disagreements and out-right fighting. My husband and I would not let that go on very long before we intervened and required peace. There is nothing more gratifying and rewarding than seeing your children put into practice what you are teaching them.
One of my favorite memories is of my two youngest sons, who shared a room, hearing them tell each other “I’m sorry” after we had prayed with them and the lights were turned out. They didn’t specify what they were sorry for, or if they had actually done anything to be sorry for, but were just clearing the air of all their possible disagreements and misdeeds through the day. They wanted to have a clear conscience as they went to sleep for the night. They did this night after night without our prompting.
I have heard of husbands and wives having disagreements that went on for days, even weeks when they would not speak to one another. I’m so thankful I didn’t experience that in marriage. My husband and I were both quick to apologize and say “I’m sorry.” Sometimes it was apologizing even if you were “right!!” We never “let the sun go down on our wrath,” but always prayed together before closing our eyes for the night.
This kind of submission is what God requires in His Church. Luke 9:23 tells us that if we will follow Jesus we “must deny” ourselves. This goes contrary to our human nature, especially in the case of disagreements. Jesus modeled this for us when he prayed in the garden before going to Gethsemane, “Father, not my will but thine be done.”
Jesus prayed that His Church would be one. John 10:10. We cannot be “one” if disagreements are rampant. In striving to be “one” we need to learn to lay down our “rights” and value relationship with other believers more than being right. It doesn’t matter if we are right or wrong. Relationship is what is important. We might be right in certain situations and circumstances, and it’s okay to feel that way. What is not okay is to cause division because other people won’t or don’t see things the same way we do.
Matt. 22:36-39 tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” To put this into practice, there are going to be times, and probably many times, when we are going to have to say “I’m sorry.” You might stumble over that the first time you say it, but the relief and load lifted off your shoulders will make it easier to say the next time. The key to making it not hard to say “I’m sorry,” is to value relationships more than being right. You’re not telling the other person you were wrong (because maybe you weren’t), you are apologizing for your reaction and showing that you value relationship more than being right.