Why Can’t Words Undo Actions? (Lent 3-2018)

Why Can’t Words Undo Actions? For that matter, can words undo words?  Or is it that once spoken can they never be unspoken?

Did you ever think you’d see Al Franken and Harvey Weinstein in a Christian devotional?  (Yeah, me neither.) They apologized in words conveying regret, they expressed their support for the women they hurt, they even committed themselves to making amends by championing women, but in the end, did it change what they did and how it impacted the women they harmed?  

Is there more to an apology than saying you’re sorry?  Get this:   “’Apologies really do work, but you should make sure you hit as many of the six key components as possible,’ said Roy Lewicki, lead author of the study and professor emeritus at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. The six magic factors are (1) Expression of regret, (2) Explanation of what went wrong, (3) Acknowledgement of responsibility, (4) Declaration of repentance, (5) Offer of repair, and (6) Request for forgiveness.”

I’m sorry, Mr. Lewicki, but I don’t believe in magic.  Seriously, does apology undo the offense?  Why apologize if words cannot undo actions?  Toothpaste just never goes back in the tube. No expressing regret, explanation, accepting responsibility, changing your behavior, offering a sacrifice of restitution, and begging for forgiveness will erase an action committed against another in real time. 

Forgiveness is more important than apology–which helps to keep short accounts–but even then, keep in mind that nothing turns back the clock.  It’s why we need a Savior and not just a scorekeeper. 

Food for thought:

  • Words can’t undo actions, but they can point toward healing.  Are there any relationships that you can try to heal today? 
  • Anyone you’ve hurt, dissed, gossiped about, belittled, abused, or cheated, etc.?  An apology can help toward healing. 
  • Forgiveness is good for your soul, even when no apology has been or can be offered.  It takes more energy to hold a grudge than to hold your tongue and extend an olive branch. 
  • Is there anyone who has harmed you who never apologized?  You can forgive that person–even with silent words–and you can offer peace with your actions.  If the one who has harmed you is dead, how can forgiving him/her be good for your soul? 
  • Need help with how to do that? Here are 3 posts I’ve written on this admittedly difficult subject.  http://seminarygal.com/forgiveness-good-for-your-soul/  http://seminarygal.com/forgiveness/2/  http://seminarygal.com/handling-betrayals-with-grace-semon-text-version/

Luke 17: 3″If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

Join me tomorrow for “Why Didn’t God Give a Second Chance?”


For Lent 2018, we’ll explore the questions of Pi and Chi (the Greek letter beginning the word Christos, which means Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One). We’ll ask and answer the question “Why?” as we discover the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.  Join me for the 40 days of Lent which began February 14, 2018 by liking Seminary Gal on Facebook or having these devotionals sent to your email box which you can do via the sign-up on my Home page.  Thank you for blessing me with this opportunity to study together the Word of God.


Acknowledging that former years’ devotional series remain popular:

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on February 16, 2018

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