September 20, 2016

Why Christians Need to Stop Apologizing and Saying I’m Sorry

by Jordan Standridge

sorrycoffeeIt happens often that there is a disagreement and two members of a family blow up at each other.  One storms into their room in anger, slams the door, and spends a couple of hours sulking and thinking terrible thoughts of the other person. After a while they will emerge from the room, either acting like nothing happened or mumbling a “I apologize if I offended you”, or even worse an “I’m sorry” that can only be answered with “that’s okay”.  The problem is that it’s not okay.  We should never justify sin in our lives and it simply doesn’t cut it to say we’re sorry.

We apologize or say we are sorry when we step on someone’s toes by mistake. What is needed when we commit an offense against someone is a transaction. When I sin against someone I must ask for forgiveness. I have sinned against them and caused pain in their life. It wasn’t by mistake. It wasn’t accidental, it was on purpose and just because it wasn’t premeditated or I hadn’t had my coffee yet does not mean that it was not sinful.

Unbelievers minimize sin. Go up to any random stranger and ask them if they are going to heaven and you will hear some form of minimization of sin. In just the last week we talked to a few dozen people about the Gospel, and all except for the one Christian we ran into believed that they were a good person. We are born thinking that sin is not that serious and that we are ultimately good people. Psychiatrists have become experts of minimizing your sin and blame shifting. The danger is that many believers, even though they believe differently theologically, in practice follow the course of the world.

We all believed at the moment of salvation that our sin deserved eternal damnation. Of course we know that if we don’t believe that we deserve hell then we are not a Christian. But all of us at some point or another forget that fact and live our lives minimizing our sin and having a hard time recognizing it. We all know that our sin didn’t vanish the moment we were born again. We continue to sin, and we continue to need the Lord to forgive us and to cleanse us. It is imperative then that we work hard at not only granting forgiveness to those around us but to be in the habit of requesting forgiveness when we sin against others.

Asking for forgiveness is not simple. It is embarrassing and it is uncomfortable. Because it is something that ought to be done face to face, it is so easy to minimize and to not take seriously. Yet the Lord calls us to be humble and calls us to recognize sin in our lives and to expose it. Forgiveness is the process of walking up to someone and explaining what sin has been committed and seeking reconciliation. If I yell at my kids, it doesn’t cut it to apologize to them. I must seek their forgiveness. I must go up to my son and explain to him that what dad has done is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord and I must explain to him that daddy sinned when he yelled at him. I must ask him to forgive me. Ignoring it, because of his short attention span is not an option. Justifying it because he was disobeying me is not right. I have sinned against him and God and I must seek out his forgiveness.

When we refuse to ask forgiveness we are in great danger, but we are also losing great blessings. Even though it is one of the most humbling things to do in this life, the Lord has set it up so that if we are obedient in this area that it will be a great blessing to us. Here are four reasons we must not refuse to ask for forgiveness.

Refusing to ask for forgiveness disqualifies you from worshipping God.  Matthew 5:24 says that if our brother has something against us we are to “leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”  We must do our best to fix the relationship before we would ever think about doing something spiritual. Yet so many come to church week after week, take communion, pray, read the Bible and, believe it or not, get up and preach hour long sermons, and yet have unreconciled relationships. Jesus says that it is better not to worship the Lord than to do so while there are unreconciled relationships in our lives. Of course some people that we sin against will not forgive us. If they are believers then hopefully someone would step in and start the process of church discipline, but regardless, believers or unbelievers, our goal is to be reconciled while remembering Paul’s words in Romans 12:18 “if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” We are only responsible for 50% of the transaction. “So far as it depends on you” is very important because if the person does not ask for forgiveness, or will not grant it, then that person is choosing to disobey the Lord, but we will have done our part to seek reconciliation.

Refusing to ask for forgiveness misses an opportunity for the Gospel. Any time we go up to someone to ask for forgiveness we are displaying a picture of the Gospel. Matthew 17 shows us that forgiveness is tied to salvation. In salvation God grants us eternal life by forgiving us our sin and casting it as far as the east is from the west, thereby giving us the righteousness needed to go to heaven through Christ. Any time we forgive someone who has wronged us we are displaying the Gospel. Some say we are never more like Christ than when we forgive, and like Stephen (Acts 7:60) in the moment of forgiving others we are displaying the Gospel to an unforgiving world. And of course asking for forgiveness to an unbeliever will probably be one of the most shocking things they will ever hear. In a world where people get ahead by lying and cheating, we will confess our sin, ask those we wrong to forgive us, and sometimes even make restitution. This opens up incredible doors for the Gospel.

Refusing to ask forgiveness blinds us.  Unconfessed sin prevents us from being able to see situations rightly.  In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus says,Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Until we have confessed and repented of sin in our own life we will be living as a hypocrite, unable to see clearly, and unmerciful to others, and our sins will just keep increasing as we try to get the specks out of the eyes of everyone around us.                                                                                                    

Refusing to ask for forgiveness may be evidencing your unbelief. Perhaps the reason we are unwilling to ask forgiveness is because we have never truly experienced it in salvation. If we are believers it means that the perfect God of the universe has forgiveness us, and the sin we have been forgiven would have damned us for eternity. On the other hand, one sin against a fellow sinner is far less significant. David, recognizing this truth,  confesses his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah in Psalm 51 saying “Against only you (God) have I sinned”.  The fact that we are convicted of sin and repent of it is one evidence that we are a believer.  1 John 1:8-10 has a strong warning to those who don’t acknowledge their sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Another warning from Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Refusal to acknowledge, confess and forsake our sin will at the very least stunt our growth as a Christian, at worst, it may be evidence that His Word is not in us and we haven’t experienced Gods saving mercy to begin with.

I have seen the effects of the lack of asking and granting forgiveness in the home and it is devastating to relationships. When I was looking for a wife I was so cognizant of looking for someone who was forgiving because I knew that in order for a relationship to last then you must have two parties who are quick to not only forgive but to recognize sin and be willing to admit it to one another. It is simply not ok to sin against a fellow human being and justify it or minimize it. We must look that person in the eye explain to them how we sinned against them and ask them to forgive us. Anything else is disobedient and misses out on incredible blessings.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion.
  • Benders

    Such an important message, well done. Perhaps some clarification on yelling at your children is needed. In Ephesians 4:26 we are commanded to have a righteous anger. There is a difference between yelling and screaming. I would define yeling as loud, strong, clear communication. The attitude and the intention of the yeller determines whether it is sin or not. I have a teenager in my home with a severe mood disorder and all efforts are made not to “yell” since anything other than calm and measured communication has a negative effect. I recommend this in dealing with all children, but that said, not all yelling is sin.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      I was wondering how you get a command to have righteous anger from Ephesians 4:26?

      And while I understand that children (especially teenagers) can be taxing, yelling demonstrates a lack of self control.

      • Benders

        Well, in Ephesians 4 Paul says be angry and do not sin. David says the same thing in Psalms 4:4. “Be angry” is a command, right? We are obviously able to be angry without sinning. So what kind of anger would be ok? I think verse 24 answers that question ok. As to your last paragraph, sure, sometimes. But sometimes it may be a controlled response. Military, police, coaches, teachers, etc. Now certainly your not going to say that a lack of self control is a sin…are you? If I eat that second brownie am I sinning? I sense Mama bear is here. Peace.

        • Jason

          I agree with you that yelling is sometimes appropriate. I have a son who is very tunnel visioned, and a raised voice is the least aggressive means to snap him out of destructive behavior. In most cases I am perfectly calm, though my voice is raised. It’s the same rationality for yelling when you’re communicating with someone a great distance away.

          To your second point: Self-control is a characteristic of a spirit filled life (Galatians 5:22-23). Certainly, it is something we should strive for in every situation.

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Well, Psalm 4:4 literally reads, “Stand in awe (to tremble), and sin not. Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.” If you read it in context, it is not a command to be angry, but rather a prayer of David for God to take note of David’s righteousness in contrast to the ungodly who have no fear of God and continually bring Him shame.

          But I agree that there is a righteous anger, but it is in response to God being offended, not us. That is why Jesus never responded in anger when it was aimed at Him and He urges us to do the same.

          Now don’t get me wrong, I believe Dads need to be firm with their kids, but not in a militaristic, angry way lest you break their spirit and their obedience is out of fear. There has to be a balance. As Paul said, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thes. 2:11,12)

          Mama bears only respond when children are threatened, not when they are disciplined properly.

          • Benders

            Agreed! I just read MacArthur’s notes. He said, “in this context the admonition means to tremble or shake in the fear of the Lord so as not to sin”. Love learning new things! Thanks Jane.

  • Michael J

    What if you live with a person who claims to be a Christian yet, is living an unbiblical lifestyle and insists they are doing God’s will and you have tried talking to them for years but they are ALWAYS quick to point out your faults, as they continue their sinful lifestyle? What if every attempt at reconciliation ends the same way and the only way to have peace with that person is to give approval of their belief that God doesn’t want them to work a job, earn money to help pay bills, for year after year after year…?
    I don’t even look at this person or acknowledge the presence of this person in the home…..and it’s toxic. Trying to figure out what my sin is exactly; if there’s hatred, bitterness, etc. and how to confess that when I know, they will take it as validation that they are in the right and I have been wrong for the last eight years.

    • 4Commencefiring4

      Forgive me (per the theme here) for butting in, but it sounds like an adult child of yours refuses his responsibilities to either ante up a fair sum for expenses, or find his own place. You say “eviction”, which suggests to me there’s some financial obligations they made with you at some point that they are not honoring and have not honored for some time. I’m not clear on what “lifestyle” has to do with anything, unless you mean sloth…I suppose that’s a “lifestyle” of sorts.

      Unless they are disabled or under 18, what’s stopping you from giving them 30 days to begin regular payments of X dollars per week/month, or–if they refuse–requiring them to make alternative plans for meals and suitable quarters, because you’re no longer going to provide either one as of 30 days hence ?

      In short, pay the piper–or 30 days from now is the end. And when that arrives, either you’ll have the money in hand, or his things will be carted out to the curb, one by one, rain or shine. He can even help, if he likes. But they’re out.

      Abuse requires at least two people: one to do the abusing, the other to allow it. It sounds like you have volunteered to be the latter.

      • Michael J

        Hello, I typed out a response; it’s not as you think…but Disqus had some kind of error and it didn’t post. Part of it is saved in a file in my computer. I’ll rework it later. Gotta sleep. I appreciate sincere prayers very much though!

      • Michael J

        You can read my reply to Jordan below if you want. I may end up deleting it though, if it’s not appropriate…

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hey Michael, thanks for your comment. Sounds like you’ve experienced tough times. I pray you’re involved in a good church and are seeking counsel from your elders. If you need any counsel don’t hesitate to call our church and ask for me I’d love to chat with you.

      • Michael J

        Thank you Jordan, I might end up calling your church because, my church has struck out every single time I’ve ever tried to ask them for help. We don’t have many solid churches around here…. The one I attend has over 5,000 members and they just don’t have time for any one person. Most of the pastors aren’t solid enough in their hermeutics and exposition anyway to counsel in the way that a trained, neuthetic counselor would…. anyway, I had a lengthy response that Disqus messed up. Good thing, I saved most of it in my computer before posting but still, I would have to add a couple of paragraphs. It may have been too much anyways…. i gotta go.

      • Michael J

        This is a very long post and I if it’s too much detail, I will delete it. I am posting because I am so frustrated and don’t know what to do.

        Hello, thanks for your thoughts. I’m 46yrs old and I live with my Mom and a 51yo brother. I had to rent this house because they were living together in another house a couple of years ago and were evicted because they had too many cats. He hasn’t worked since his divorce over 8yrs ago. but has been working on a project “from God” (putting the entire Bible narration to the appropriate classical paintings and music.) off and on since the early 90’s and finally finished in 2014. He did a tremendous job and is the perfect person, I guess to do what he did there…. still, it’s the WAY he did that is sinful, I believe.
        I tried to get rid of him by buying his plane ticket to Chicago where he could find someone at Moody to help him take the next steps with his program and maybe stay up there for a while. He tried to force another brother to pay for a return flight because he couldn’t take the conditions at the Pacific Garden Mission anymore. That brother wouldn’t do it and our Mom, who was deeply in debt and zero savings, took out a short-term loan from the neighborhood Money-Corner to bring him back.
        We were already in this new house with a lease for just the 2 of us. But my brother came back and slept in Mom’s car in the driveway. I knew that if he slept one night in the house, that he would never leave. That ended up happening because I felt sorry for him. He started another “project from God”; FIXING ALL THE ERRORS OF MODERN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS!!! Ayecaramba! He spends about 6-10hrs day or more at his desk just studying and writing down notes.
        He does keep Mom company and helps her with various paperwork issues for her and for our mentally ill brother who has to stay in a home an hour north of here. It’s like a co-dependent relationship. Mom defends him because she is an “over-provider” and “rescuer.” He does have terrible eyesight and is legally blind without his contacts and glasses–yes, he has to wear both but somehow he manages to study for hours on end. He buys some food with foodstamps (even though I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to eat food bought with them…) and mows the lawn thinking that’s enough to justify his presence here. I will mow the lawn, I don’t care about that, I need real money to help pay bills.
        Our Dad did the exact same thing. Believing he was only supposed to be a pastor, he studied and studied and wouldn’t work full time to support us 9 kids so, we grew up poor, getting power and water shut off frequently, getting kicked by most of our landlords. Mom worked herself almost to death to provide for all of us. Dad would work here and there but nothing steady. It was very embarrassing growing up because we were so poor. We moved 18x in 9yrs in the 80’s. Dad was very smart but was never discipled properly. On his deathbed, he admitted that I was right about what I had told him a couple of years earlier; that he needed to be discipled and shouldn’t have gone to seminary so quickly after getting saved… now my brother is carrying on the “legacy” or more accurately; the curse. Evicting him hasn’t been an easy task because our Mom flips out and I’m afraid she’ll have another stroke. My brother goes ballistic too as he goes off on yelling rants about ALL the things I’ve ever done wrong over the years including friends of mine who ended up doing much wrong (I guess he thinks that reflects on my lack of judgment and discernment in choosing friends and therefore, I lack the discernment to criticize him) and ALL the problems with our church and why he doesn’t attend–he hasn’t been a regular part of a local assembly in, I don’t know how many years…maybe the 90’s….? He believes Hebrews 10:25 doesn’t apply to him because of some contextual thing that I don’t even want to hear about. He hardly lets me say anything anyway at a point where he just keeps yelling, repeating the same thing over and over and over…
        We were roommates in 95 when he suddenly was laid off his job as a piano teacher and salesman. He didn’t tell me that he wasn’t going to pay the bills anymore and when I finally said something he said, “What if God wants you to support me while I work on this program?” I said, “Well, He didn’t tell me that.” He responded, “What if He did and you’re just not listening and you’re being disobedient?” I said, “I’m willing to stand before Him on judgment day and answer for that.” His attitude has continued and I see NO change. He acts very nice to most people but the second you challenge him on his “lifestyle” (I think you get the idea of what I mean by that now…?) he goes into hyper-defensive mode. Three months ago, I was on my way to pay the $189 eviction fee downtown but had to return to the house because I forgot something. We ended up talking–oh, he was very interested in having a civil discussion now that he saw I was serious. He became very nice and passive. We talked for about 2hrs–until after the Clerk of Courts closed. Nothing was actually resolved but he interpreted it all, like he always does when people are civil to him, as my acceptance of his belief that God has been preventing him from working so he can finish this project. He believes that if he works a regular job, he is being disobedient to God in the more important work of the translation-correction. In that conversation, I kept pressing the fact that what I’m reading in the text and what he says he thinks God has been telling him are two different things. I told him that he is elevating a very subjective, mystical interpretation of God’s voice over the actual text. He steadfastly denied it. He very intelligent and can twist things around very slyly but I stuck to the text. I hate to say it but, he just seems like a master manipulator to get his way BUT, he really believes his own lies. Another brother said, “The whole family will feel nothing but relief when he dies.” I told him that. He sees himself as Jacob being persecuted by everyone else (even though, I thought Joseph and his brothers would’ve been a better example–if you’re going to go down that false road)
        In August, I tried asking him about his efforts to find work because I had to quit my job and was starting to run out of money and needed help beyond Mom’s contributions from her small social security check. She was paying half the bills but that took up most of her check and my brother was not making any efforts to make an income–even after all our previous arguments and shouting matches. That last attempt (and I did try to be civil–I REALLY DID just want to have a normal conversation without escalation) erupted as soon as I said, (in a normal tone voice I thought) “This ain’t working, you gotta do something.” He instantly raised his voice answering, “HAVE YOU SEEN THE LAWN LATELY?! WE’RE GOING TO GET KICKED OUT IF THE LANDLORD SEES THAT OVERGROWN GRASS! WE’RE GOING TO GET A CITY CITATION!” I don’t know why neither of us had mowed the lawn but down south here, the grass grows very quickly. SOOOOOooooo, I was so flaberghasted at that unnecessary and nonsequitur response that I just couldn’t take it anymore so, I told him he had to leave right now. I started to take his Bibles and commentaries out. I told him I was going to take his mattress (there’s no bed; just a mattress on the floor). He stood on it as I tried to take it. I told him that I was going to wrestle him to the ground and take it anyway (I was bluffing of course). I finally grabbed it and shoved it into the living room. He closed his door and tried to call 911. I pulled the cord out of the modem and then he grabbed Mom’s cell phone and called again. I called also to give them the real story before he twisted things around to make them sound worse than reality. 2 officers came and talked to us separately. The officer talking to my brother became exasperated saying, “I’ve told you the same thing five times now. I may as well go down the street and try to talk to elementary school kids–it’s the same thing.” My brother vehemently kept up the accusations against me even though they repeatedly told him not exasperate the situation. They told us not to speak to each other, etc. etc.
        For much of the 2yrs in this house, I haven’t looked at him or acknowledged his presence. I only talk to Mom or, to him if absolutely necessary. It’s a shame because, last year, there was a time when it seemed we were getting along well. I was trying really hard to show the love of Christ and have a Christ-like attitude. After about 2 weeks of getting along and talking a lot, I realized he was just manipulating me so he could continue his lifestyle of comfort and easy while I busted my tail at the job I had then–a very difficult construction job that burned me out. I finally asked him, “So, what efforts are you making to look for work?” That was it, he went off and it was just another shouting match. Our Mom took him to look for work, from time to time, but I could tell, he wasn’t very enthusiastic at all and no one hired him. He took that to mean God was telling him to stay home and work on the project. I told Mom, last year, that I couldn’t take it anymore and something had to change. I told her I might just start throwing his stuff out on the lawn. She got upset and went around the neighborhood looking for another place to rent–she doesn’t think real logically sometimes, especially after the stroke a few years ago. She ended up getting hit by another car, totaling hers. She was hurt a little but nothing serious, praise God. It was just a couple of blocks away. My brother blamed me for upsetting her and I blamed him for creating this whole situation… So, I have to repent of any bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness while, I believe that my brother continues in sinning every day he refuses to try and find work but stays home doing his thing. If I’m nice to him, he takes it as validation of his lifestyle. There’s no real conversation to be had. I don’t know what to do. I took 6mos of neuthetic Biblical conseling classes 8yrs ago at a Presbyterian church 45mins from where we live now and took all the counseling sessions at 4 Shepherd’s Conferences; 09-12. Last year, I told the counseling director (they have 6 NANC counselors there) the whole story. She had moved away but helped me get scheduled to talk with the new director. The counselor, a woman, wanted to talk to me first then him. She sent us all the paperwork including the PDI. The counseling was scheduled but then the miraculous happened! Another brother burst into the house with excitement and got our delusional brother to go with him to get a job delivering pizzas—and it happened! I thought the situation had been mostly resolved so, I canceled the counseling appointment. He quit 3 weekends later. I never rescheduled but am supposed to since, I renewed email with that counselor.
        Re: My church; they only have 1 certified counselor and she is very much an integrationist. No pastor at this large church of 5,000+ members seems to have the time to talk at length with one person. I emailed one pastor that is closer to reformed theology than the rest but he didn’t let me explain the situation and gave me some counsel that wasn’t based on fact. Our mother had a stroke in 2012 and still has difficulty making decisions. She is a much simpler person now and is almost like a child. She is swayed by my brother because she spends a good amount of time sitting in a chair next to his while they watch a lot of t.v. Together.
        I struggle with continuing to attend church where I am because of the lack of understanding of progressive sanctification. The really promote the Celebrate Recovery program… too much weak teaching going on. I haven’t tried to attend the Presbyterian church where the counseling occurs….maybe I should but it’s so far across town….
        I can’t just evict my brother because of the toll it will take on our Mom and the fact that the lease has expired so, I have no legal grounds for eviction. The landlord doesn’t know the lease is expired; he is overseas and his brother was supposed to bring the new lease over but he never did. I kind of like the fact that we are able to move if necessary but I can’t evict anyone now.
        Well, there are other details and maybe this is too much. Might be good for a case study. Still, I am having trouble knowing how to act toward a person that I believe is sinning everyday by living in a house where they don’t make any sincere effort to get disability, partial disability, or procure some kind of employment while spending so many hours sitting at a desk, studying the Bible and commentaries, has a HORRIBLE attitude of judgment toward anyone who dares disagree with him, and interprets your niceness as acceptance of their life and unbiblical beliefs.

    • Maranatha

      Dear Michael, like 4commencefiring4 commented, if this “person” is an adult child or relative, then… 2Thess 3,10. Change the keys and get him/her out of your living place (1Cor 5,13). If he/her is under 18 and cannot be expelled, you normally have access to his/her bank account to get a portion counts for living. If it is an unbelieving spouse, well it’s harder then because of 1Cor 7,12. It depends, but Gods Word has detailed hints and help for any situation. Perhaps you did let things slide too long? A Christian has to keep his house clean from evil. Even when we had severe discipline problems with our teenage son (who is a real newborn child of God!), we once had to threaten him with eviction because of Luke 14,26 and 1Cor 5,11 even when our hearts would break because he is even our single child like Isaak for Abraham was. But Jesus is always on first place in a christians home, no one else. The other person has to know that and if necessary feel the consequences.

      • Michael J

        You can read my very long reply to Jordan if you want but I may end up deleting it if it’s inappropriate. I am frustrated enough to take the chance….

        • 4Commencefiring4

          Well, clearly I had not the first clue as to how deeply disfunctional your family has become. There are problems there I cannot begin to get my arms around or understand.

          So it seems to me that the first thing is for everyone to quit playing the “Bible one-upsmanship” card with each other. Knock it off with all the “you’re sinning” talk, it’s not helping anything…even if true. There’ll be time enough for that later after everyone goes to their respective corners at the bell. You all need to separate. You are toxic to one another.

          Next, I think Mom deserves to enjoy as much of her last few years in as much peace as possible, away from all this family disarray. You should find her a single room to rent in a house, if she is able to live alone, and allow her one–count ’em ONE–cat. If she can’t live alone, find a 2 BR apt with her and keep brother out of it. He’s the poison in the pastry. He’s 51, for goodness sake. Let him figure it out on his own.

          You live “down south”? Good: he won’t freeze if he lives under a bridge for as long as needed. Plenty of others are doing it; he can join them. He can read his “projects” to the others on the street. Who knows? He might become a street evangelist.

          In any event, he seems “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”, as some like to say. He’s all involved in his studies while using them to excuse his irresponsibility. So don’t kick him out; instead, move out with Mom, or move her to an independent place and find one of your own. 51 can do whatever he likes. No more loaning money, no more extending him favors, no more arguing with him. It’s over, Johnnie. Over.

          Nothing is going to change until someone changes it. So change it. If none of this is possible, then–like I said–I can’t get a grip on this level of chaos in a family. It’s just not a life I can understand. You will be in the prayers of many.

          • Michael J

            Thank you for your thoughts and prayers–I value prayers very highly!
            Everytime some of us in the family try to take serious measures to get our non-working brother out, our Mom goes crazy and wants to rescue him. I have said many times that homelessness might be what he needs to wake him up but he will probably manipulate someone else into providing for him. And, our Mom wouldn’t be able to relax until she knew he was taken care of somehow.
            All my talk about sinning is my attempt to approach things from a theological angle; What is God like? how does He think? What does He expect of us?
            I thought, if I can help my brother see the truth of God’s Word in relation to how we are to live our lives in community, making disciples, and being progressively conformed to the image of Christ then, maybe he would start to realize that if God wants a project done, He involves other believers; there are no “long rangers” in the Christian community. He adamantly rejects the idea that he is a lone ranger, “I have Mom.” is his response.
            Things might change if I can find a good woman to marry. That would upset the apple-cart in a good way. I have problems too. I’m having trouble accepting God’s provision in life and I often think He is placing a certain woman in my path for me to marry but maybe I am misreading the situation….this have been going on for 22yrs; one woman after another that I reject then, the ones I do like aren’t interested…. And, I’m an artist and writer…. and I’m burned out on all the work that has been coming my way; house cleaning, construction work, etc. I’m very weary… very tired… I quit my extremely taxing construction job in July (was a helper for my younger brother who is gifted in that kind of work. I can do some of it but I am a better helper than installer. I can hustle and do “dumb” work quickly but I always take too much time with things like caulking windows, shower enclosures, etc. I also can’t plan out installation work as quickly as my younger brother but he doesn’t understand that I’m wired for art and other creative things so, he was always yelling at me to go faster and be more focused on the job. I REALLY TRIED!!! I quit one day after he yelled at me so loud and angrily that it was the last straw–of many others as well–and I told him calmly that I did the best I could and that I would let our boss know that I quit) Whew, that was a long parenthetical.
            I quit and decided to forget about everything else and focus on my children’s book idea. I worked on it 12-14hrs a day for about 5wks and got it uploaded on Amazon. It’s on there now for download only.
            I’m an alumni of the Act One Writing Program in Hollywood and have a strong vision for a Christian film that I want to make… I believe God has given me several confirmations on it but I am having trouble with timing and His provision in the meantime…. I have several good ideas on any given day and it’s frustrating when I am cleaning houses or doing mold remediation and can’t ever have the time to make those creative ideas a reality. Not to mention, I have sleep apnea, apparently so, I only have so many good hours in a day to create….
            So, I was in the hole yesterday financially and almost had a panic attack…. extreme anxiety comes over me when I try to wrap my mind around getting another full time job and all that goes with it; lots of fatigue so, basically, my time off is just recovering with very little energy for other things….
            I don’t know, I can preach many sermons at myself as well as most and I listen to many sermons; Steve Lawson, Ligon Duncan, J. MacArthur, Sproul, et. al and whoever happens to be on radio when I’m driving around….
            Submission to God is vital and we will flounder in life until we are truly submitted to Him. I always get scared and I’m often like a stiff-necked Bronco horse that God has to train. It’s terrible… thanks again for prayers…. they help.

          • Maranatha

            Dear Michael J, than you very much being so frankly here. I beg your pardon first if my answer will only use scriptures to solve your problem. Perhaps this might sound “harsh” but anyway you should know this sort of answer from the Lord Himself if you want to trust HIM ALONE in your life (John 6,60). Also, I want to keep it short enough to give space for your own prayer and thinking, not for more and more human arguing (whatismore, in a language not being my mother tongue). Prayer is good, but not without any action following. OK lets start:

            1.) I assume you are REALLY in trouble and SINCERELY interested to come out of this situation. Well, 4commencefiring4 already gave some good ideas, even if not underlaid with bible citation. If you have no possibility to evict anybody, then YOU have to MOVE out. It is like in church, when evil is growing within, the LORD does not insist any more in expelling (single) evil out like in 1 Cor 5,13 but he says “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev 18,4) If you TRULY and EARNESTLY want to, then the best moment to come out is NOW, when your house lease has expired. With your own words: “I kind of like the fact that we are able to move if necessary but I can’t evict anyone now.” YES!! And that’s it. MOVE – if you can, move alone.

            2.) If you cannot move alone and the Lord gave you (after having prayed about this!) the order to care for your old, widowed and stroke-ill mother, then THIS may be your duty – but NOTHING else then. Not your 51-brother nor any other woman. Do you have the slightest idea what it means and what hard work it takes to become a husband (and father) according to God’s will? Praise Him that He would not let you marry yet, that none of your relationships with women ended up in sin and in getting illegitimate children and perhaps never will. It is very probably NOT your mission in life here (1 Cor 7,32!). Your family situation is strange enough, even for NON-believers. With 47 years and considering the end-times we are living in, please do not even think about a family of your own. You would be running on empty, totally and surely never getting up again. And the suffering and pain following wouldn’t be Gods will either.

            3.) What I am wondering about is the extreme long duration you have been in “biblical” counseling. If you read your bible, what do you read there or how do the Lord’s words about discipleship and (human) family ties sound to you then? Did you never pray about Matthew 1,35.37 / 12.50 /19,29 / Luke 14,26? Well, my husband and I DID leave ALL of our families because NO single member would follow Jesus with us according to scriptures – until today, 11 years from now. I know what that means – but it is definitively NECESSARY and the ONLY possibility to live a holy life that pleases God. Not only in the US family ties are “sacred” – they were as well in Jesus’ times in the Middle East! (see what the apostles did in Matthew 4,18-22: leaving their NETS (learned profession) first, then the FAMILY (ship=family enterprise and the father) as well!)

            4.) Regarding your 51-brother, if he has some special thoughts about Hebrews 10,25 probably he never read the following verses 26-31. Please forget about trying to convert him but SEPARATE from him as soon as you can. He is the type of religious man that “seperates himself” according to Proverbs 18,1. There is nothing else to do about him. He is a man of 2 Thessalonians 3,11 (see verse 14 for NOT having communion with such a person) and even a social sucker (parasite) which makes it even worse to claim ‘Lord, Lord!’ (Matthew 7,21) and using the liberty in Christ for a ‘cloke of maliciousness’ (1 Peter 2,16).

            5.) Are you REALLY sure about your “gifts” as a christian artist, filmmaker etc. when nothing but SOULSAVING mission by spreading the GOSPEL (only!!) is our work and sacred duty according to the Lords order as long as we live on earth here? Please think and pray earnestly about Matthew 6,33 and 1 Timothy 6,8 then. All of our living in following Jesus is only for the “daily bread” – so that the Christian might be able to spread the gospel whereever he earns his money. Everything must come from the Lord – the living AND the gospel! Please think about the possibility that your (artistic) gifts are not (only) for THIS period of time but when God created you for eternity He might have already thought further than this earthly place. ;-)) You see, I myself am gifted in many ways I certainly cannot act out HERE – but I know, I will be using my gifts THERE for sure, to HIS full pleasure. So do not worry about this now. The next step has to be your FREEDOM IN CHRIST on earth, without your unbelieving and/or disobedient family members.

            Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied (Jude 2)!

          • Michael J

            Thank you for taking the time to offer your insights. Everything you said has been running through my mind for years. I’m hyper-analytical and try to consider every conceivable angle of a situation while keeping in mind the supernatural power of God to do what I never imagined.
            I have to keep this response short for now but I appreciate what you’ve said and certainly appreciate any sincere prayers you offer up to God—there is power there!

          • Michael J

            Let me add this bit of insight: My Dad’s father was a wealthy inventor. My Dad grew up a star athlete but without a strong work ethic because things were given to him including a convertible car so he could gallivant around Europe after college. His father was an alcoholic and my Dad picked up on those behaviors, even mirroring them in a way without ever drinking, even after he got saved. He never had a real emotional connection with his Dad or Mom. Neither knew how to authentically connect with their children.
            That’s why Dad really immersed himself in heavy Bible study when he went to seminary. Mom’s brother in law pulled strings to get him into seminary, even though he had just gotten saved and didn’t even know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den! He needed milk before chewing on meat. Therefore, that’s what he thought Christianity was all about. He couldn’t grasp the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself and making disciples. “Life Together” was something he just didn’t understand. So, my non-working brother thinks the same way; God gives us projects that are more important than “life together.” I use Bonheoffer’s term since it encapsulates the grand thought of how God intends for His children to live in this world.
            My Mom’s family didn’t know how to connect emotionally as well. Therefore, growing up, we substituted joking, intellectual activity (including lots of chess), entertainment, and creativity (art, constantly inventing things/coming up with new ideas for everything under the sun) for real connection. I don’t feel any real, emotional connection with any of my family members. I wouldn’t DARE tell them my most personal things. Our relationship with each other is surface-level and superficial. We talk about things and ideas but not our inmost struggles with sin and so forth.
            It’s quite sad. Mom has always tried to make up for it via forced interaction without being able to be authentic, genuine, and real. “I just never knew how to talk to you boys.” She lamented at one point, back in the 80’s. I never forgot the pain in her voice. One of the few times she was “real.”
            She continues to smother and use forced interaction today and I just want to escape. Being forced to be around family is the loneliest thing in the world.
            So, I too don’t know how to authentically relate to people. I get so far in friendships, making “friends” very easily but never being able to get beyond a certain point. It’s really a fruit of the Spirit so, maybe I just don’t walk in the Spirit continuously and that’s the problem….?
            Sad too, that many Christians just want you to instantly submit to their wisdom and claim that you’re full of wicked pride if you don’t submit on their time-table. That led me to the Biblical Counseling world; to find out how we are to relate to each other when we communicate deep struggles. Many Christians are quick to use harsh rebuke and some are too soft, offering worldly-type platitudes. We all need to be able to show a person, from the scriptures, using well-reasoned exposition and exegesis, the Biblical truth of a thing. All this is to be done with love, grace, and patience born of a heart broken over our own sin as we are quick to preach the gospel to ourselves first.
            It’s amazing that God’s love doesn’t change and isn’t affected by our performance but is based purely on the finished work of Christ…. therein lies the hope…

          • Maranatha

            Dear Michael J, gotta go to work now its 5:30 am in Germany. But if you want, you can reach me via E-Mail I would really love to help or comfort you in any possible way. Love in Christ Jesus, Corinna

          • 4Commencefiring4

            I’m no email expert like Hillary, but if your email address is, I’d look for alternatives. That domain name is not what you might call “Straight Outta Mayberry RFD”, and it surely gives one an impression you don’t intend.

          • Maranatha

            One last thought, Michael (before getting too much off topic, therefore my E-Mail): Are there NO brethren at all around your 5,000 member church who are able to give you a free temporary shelter in their house at least so you could get some rest and sleep and peace again to order your things in future??? (= James 2,14-16) I cannot understand this between brethren in Christ. Are they all counseling but never practising??

          • Michael J

            Maranatha; thank you for you email and being so generous about your willingness to help; I greatly appreciate that.
            There isn’t drama everyday here actually, as long as I just let my brother do what he wants. There are periodic disruptions when I try to talk about the situation because he gets so defensive. Work has been sparse lately and I have been trying to make money online so, I just stay in my room all day. When I do go into the living room and kitchen, I just don’t acknowledge my brother’s presence. I just don’t know how to handle the situation; forgive always yes, but how to act and react to the situation has me in constant stress.
            Our church is going through a transition time as we look for a new pastor and alter the way the church is led. It will now be an elder-led assembly so, I see some progress being made toward us, as a whole, being more Biblical but still, I’ve never been able to get any real help from the pastors there. I’ve only gone to pastors for help, probably around 5 times in 17 or so, years but never got any solid, Biblical counsel. I was discipled vicariously via radio preachers. I would listen to 10-20 sermons a week for several years but looking back, most of them were a bit weak in their theology, except for MacArthur, of course.
            In 2009, I called the music minister and asked if would be willing to go talk to my brother. Back then, he and our Mom lived on the same street as the church–less than 1/2 mile away. The music minister seemed very agitated that I asked him and asked why I did ask him. I said, “Because he’s a pianist and is really into classical music so, I thought he might be willing to listen to you, another musician who is widely respected….”
            The music minister declined and no other help was offered. We had been a part of this church since the 80’s off and on and I started attending faithfully in Nov. 1993.
            I used to live in a small trailer with my younger brother back then and out of all the people in the church (7,000+- members at the time), they asked me to house a man who had daily seizures from an accident. I was perfectly willing and let him sleep on the couch for 8mos. but I always wondered why they asked me instead of all the wealthy, retired people with large houses and empty bedrooms. Letting that man stay there caused a great deal of stress and strain on my relationship with my younger brother because he had to put up with living in very tight living quarters with a 3rd person who was always having seizures and sleeping for 24+ hours straight on the couch in front of the t.v. leaving us nowhere to sit….
            12yrs ago, I tried going to our pastor of education one time about a feud with a girl at church. I was hoping for him to help us reconcile, because it had reached that point, but he downplayed it and blew it off. I did my best to acknowledge anything and everything that I did or even, may have done to the point of confessing things to her that I wasn’t even guilty of, just to try and make peace. She wasn’t willing and cut me off forever.
            My non-working brother, was actually part of the our church for a while in the 90’s and brought in a homeless man to get some help from the church but a pastor got very angry at my brother saying they couldn’t help every homeless person…
            There are good people there who really love the Lord but I’ve never seen the leadership make any real efforts to help me or people I know. Lots of people slipped through the cracks over the years… That’s why I was glad I to be “awakened” so to speak, to the more reformed side of Christianity. Southern Baptists just seemed to wishy-washy and I have agonized greatly over finding a good assembly here. I finally just gave in and went back to the familiar and convenient; my old church.
            Anyway, I’m writing too much here…
            God bless….

          • Maranatha

            Dear Michael, Thank you again for writing down your story so frankly. I only begin to understand what the situation in the US church must be like. Please keep my E-Mail and name for any case of trouble, but I will have to delete it in this blog here by tomorrow. I would love to explain to you more about the plan of God and the historic period of Rev 3,14-20 (= Laodicea period of church) we are actually living in, the last period of total decline, shortly before rapture and judgement of the nations. So you would better understand your own church situation as well. One of my biggest gifts when being saved by Jesus in 2005 was (apparently) the “word of prophesy” (2 Peter 1,19) which also is given to women (Isaiah 8,3; Acts 21,9 etc.). Sometimes, it is really a burden for me to see and understand so much around me and (bc. lack of wise brethren, except my own husband) not being able (and as a woman biblically not allowed!) to talk about it in public and feeling much pain about it (Preacher 1,18).

            Anyway, some parts of your story remind me of the comedy movie ‘Christmas Vacation’ with Chevy Chase and his non-working brother bumping in… forgive me! ;-)) Michael, please — it is REALLY necessary that you get OUT of this. It seems like if the Lord already gave you several opportunities to do that you perhaps didn’t see or react to properly – but you should capture this one really NOW.

            I think you have wasted a lot of time and opportunity to live your life as a child of God and the Lord’s disciple. You have betaken yourself to this social family construct like Lot chose Sodom to live in – not after Gods will but after your own! Therefore, you “torment your righteous soul” YOURSELF in a way that God never imposed on you (2 Peter 2,7-8). If you do not get out from this place you live in, you will never make the experience to depend on Jesus to 100 percent, never see and feel His splendid work in realtime and in total reliance on Him (He WILL care for you, for SURE, I grant for this, I do experience it day by day! If you just would pack your trolley and go!) and in consequence, you will never will be able to grow spiritually and reach the level of knowledge and perception the Lord Himself has already planned for you before He created heavens and earth! (Ephesians 1,17 ff. and 4,13 etc.) You are yourself hindering in growth and understanding if you are not leaving this spiritually horrible place IMMEDIATELY – and it is my duty now in front of our Holy Lord to tell you this TODAY. Lot as well thought to reform the Sodomites, but instead they reformed his spirit to a totally cripple and gimp, laughing and mocking at him. Do you think this was Gods plan for Lot? It was not for Lot and it is not His plan for you – unless you allow the Sodomites reign over you instead of God. Whom will you OBEY, who is your LORD? Think about this please. Besides, I recommend as well to contact Jordan Standridge as he himself offered, because he is a pastor you can possibly trust in and living in the US (whose structure in life praxis I do not know). But PLEASE, MOVE!! — My only solace in your case is the same as yours is (which is the best comfort man can have in situations like this): Jesus Christ will take care of EVERY of His sheep – whereever and in whatever state they might be actually. This does NOT mean He wants them to STAY in whatever condition they are. But He WILL take care better than man could ever do. — Please feel free to contact me via email whenever necessary, if you like. Thanks for listening and best wishes!

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  • Maranatha

    We had this problem over years with our teenage son. He would never ask for forgiveness but even hardly apologized after having sinned. Very stubborn, very hard work with an introverted type of young man. I would not accept simple apologize in front of him, even if forgiving in my heart. He learned the lesson, but took much time. After all, he himself is a type of character who forgives very quickly, even quicker than his parents! So quickly that he sometimes forgot the reason for quarrel with sb before talking about it. But at the teenage period, rebellion against the parents (and God insofar) was more dominant, which found its expression this way described (not asking for forgiveness nor apologizing). The character of forgiving on his own behalf did not change though. But we know this problem very well, learned a lot from the Lord. 😉

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thank so for you comment Maranatha! I guess it comes down to just modeling it for them and praying that God would soften their hearts. But even the best of parents are dependent on the Lord to change their children’s hearts!

      • Maranatha

        Yes, we’ve been through a rough time – and this without any solid local church and brethren nearby we could ask. Only had the bible and the will to follow. It was ALL Gods work alone!! You know, sometimes I think the work on sinful children is given to man/parents because we get to know better Gods effort and trouble with ourselves. He certainly weeps a lot because of us… (Matth 23,37 / John 11,35)

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  • Barbara

    I liked this post Jordan! In my marriage I am the one always asking for forgiveness 🙄 My poor husband has an amazing source of grace! Jesus❤️This summer I was in a long term care hospital and,sadly, am quite ill. At that time, I was overwhelmed and I loudly said some things, harshly that a particular nurse heard me say. She came into my room from my doorway and said I would be taken care of etc. I said I was sorry. But, as the weeks dragged on my conscious wouldn’t let it go. So, With my walker I shuffled over to her one day and asked for forgiveness, she stated, nothing to forgive. I clarified, adding,”as a Christian I showed you my sinful side, which was so dis honoring to God” she swept that aside and again said, nothing to forgive..but she looked struck. She never spoke to me or acknowledged my presence my last weeks there. Not asking Forgiveness right away does do damage, it really does.

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