A Proverb a day can show us the way because the book of Proverbs is wonderfully applicable to the situations we face in our everyday lives.
Proverbs 6:2-5 gives us some very practical advice: “You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. So do this. . .to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself. . . . Allow no sleep to your eyes. . . . Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.”
How many times have you wanted to crawl under a table because you said something you wished you hadn’t? Perhaps they were words spoken in anger or haste, or words of gossip, or judgmental words. Or maybe they were unkind, untruthful, harsh, and unnecessary words that inflicted harm of some kind.
What do you do? You can’t un-say them; you can’t delete them; you can’t erase them. Those words hang there in your memory and the memory of others. What can you do?
Solomon says to go and humble yourself to the person your words harmed. Go and confess to them—and do it immediately. Apologize and do all you can to free yourself from the damage of those words.
I know that’s not easy to do. But it’s a lot easier than not doing it! Once, in a hotel on a business trip, I accused a hotel employee of neglecting to follow my instructions. I was certain that I had given those instructions. Nicely, but directly, I said, “I’m sure it’s your fault; please correct it.”
A few minutes later I came to realize that I was the one who was wrong, not him. It was embarrassing; I wanted to run away. But I forced myself to go to the phone, call the young man, and apologize to him. Even a simple apology like that wasn’t easy but, once I did it, I felt so free. I could tell that it also made a big difference to him. He kept saying, “That’s so nice of you to call. Thank you.” Well, it wasn’t nice of me; it was the right thing to do.
If you’ve offended someone with words, don’t procrastinate. Go right now—today—and apologize! That’s good advice from Proverbs.