Like me, I'm sure you all have had these conversations in various flavors...and that you've been both Sally and Bobby.
Sally: "I'm so sorry for losing my temper, I didn't mean to hurt you."
Bobby: "That's OK, no problem. Don't worry about it."
What Sally is saying is that she knows she did something wrong, and that it hurt Bobby. She acknowledges her wrong and admits it.
Then Bobby graciously lets her off the hook by telling her that what she did is OK...even though it hurt him...even though she already admitted it wasn't.
Is he really being gracious? Is he being honest with himself, and with Sally? If it hurt, wasn't it a problem, even if just a little one? And don't those little problems build up over time?
Absolutely! By telling Sally it's OK, he is minimizing both his own feelings of hurt and her admission of guilt. It doesn't take long for walls to be built, one stone of reasoning at a time.
When a wrong is committed against us, the only response, with or without the apology, is three simple words: "I forgive you."
Forgiveness is supernatural, and powerful. But it lays totally dormant when we don't activate it through our words. Jesus didn't die for us to reason away wrong actions, or so we could tell people that hurting us is not a big deal.
He died to make forgiveness possible: His forgiveness of us for our wrongs, and our forgiveness of others.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13, NIV)
It doesn't say justify...rationalize...reason...excuse. The verse says, "Forgive."
Next time someone hurts you and apologizes, make it a point to say, "I forgive you." When you hurt someone and apologize, ask them if they can forgive you. Saying those three simple words is not always easy; but it's necessary to activate the supernatural power that sets us free from anger, heals wounds, and deepens relationships over time.
If you don't explicitly say, "I forgive you," be intentional about making a change. Ask God to help you remember. He will.