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Is it ever too late to apologize?

Maybe you’ve heard that song by One Republic, “Too Late to Apologize.” It has gotten more “spins” on the radio than any other single in history in a comparable time period. It’s a catchy tune – maybe too much so – I woke up with it playing over and over in my head this morning. The songwrite…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Maybe you’ve heard that song by One Republic, “Too Late to Apologize.” It has gotten more “spins” on the radio than any other single in history in a comparable time period. It’s a catchy tune – maybe too much so – I woke up with it playing over and over in my head this morning.

The songwriter, Ryan Tedder, is a strong Christian who regularly stands up for his faith, but in this case, his theology is off. It’s never too late to apologize or to seek healing in relationships. Jesus set the example for us on the cross as he was dying. In his last moments, he forgave his executioners. It wasn’t too late. Many people teetering on the edge of death struggle to let go because they need to apologize and have believed the lie that it’s too late. But even in that final chapter of life, the human spirit yearns for reconciliation, for a tidying up of unfinished business.

There’s something in us that longs for the spiritual concept of shalom – a sense of wholeness in relationships. And when the shalom is broken, our spirits know it even if we don’t. This business of forgiveness and reconciliation is at the heart of Christianity – it’s what distinguishes it from any other works-based religion.

God wants us to move from brokenness to wholeness. God wants to pry us out of our brokenness by having us acknowledge it to those we’ve hurt. Whether in seeking forgiveness or bestowing it as a sheer act of grace, it’s never too late. Ask God today and he may show you who needs a call from you. And when you hear “it’s too late to apologize,” don’t you believe it.

Comments (14)

  • Interesting. Cool video. I experienced this last night as I apologized to my wife before bed for something, and we both felt peace.

    I saw my grandpa who had lived the life of an alcoholic accept Christ on his deathbed. He was suffering from liver failure, his face was yellow from jaundice, and he was clearly in pain.

    The priest came in, read him his last rites, and asked if he believed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. My grandpa, who never cared much for religion or attending mass with my grandma, had tears in his eyes and said, “Yes, yes I do.” The priest asked him if he would receive Jesus as his savior. My grandpa nodded again and said, “Yes, yes I do.” I wasn’t even a Christ-follower at the time, but I knew that was powerful.

    I’m sure that there are critics of these types of conversions, and I have no way to really know my grandpa’s heart, but for all my money, I’m expecting to see him in heaven.

    You’re right; it’s never too late. And perhaps that’s what’s so powerful about this song – that the alternative is our hearts turn cold towards God and each other. In this song, I hear the words of someone who is tormented with unforgiveness. If we don’t forgive, then we won’t be free.

  • The name of the sacrament has changed from “confession” (when I was a youngster) to its current one of “reconciliation”. The experience of the sacrament of reconciliation has always and continues to be very freeing and joyful.

    One of the great tragedies of Jesus’ time was that Judas Iscariot was convinced by the Devil that he could not be forgiven for betraying the Lord. However, another contemporary, in St. Peter, while he wept bitterly after his denial, did not give up hope and was ultimately reconciled to to the Lord. Yes, Seth, empathically yes….it’s never too late or any circumstance too awful to be reconciled to the Lord……….

  • I think there are A LOT of things in our culture that send people the wrong message…like this song…people start believing that at times it is too late too apologize. Today I was driving behind a car that had a U.S. Marine bumper sticker on it…and it read…Heaven won’t have us, and Hell is afraid we’ll take over. How awful. Had he pulled into the same place I was going I would have asked him what he thought he did, to believe that Heaven wouldn’t have him.

    I think all these things promote lies of satan. They come across as artistic…or funny…but people really do take messages like that to heart. Several months ago…had I seen that bumper sticker, I probably would have agreed, and my spirit would have been hurt…probably without my realizing it…but now things like that make me sad…because I know that others sit in agreement with it…and satan perpetuates his lies.

  • it is seriously freaking me out about how connected we are…i have had this same song going through my head for a couple days now…albeit the words I was singing, “it’s too late to get a job…” were a little off.

    hope you got a laught out of that one.

    i fully anticipate for your next blog to be a play by play of my day.

    on a serious note, you always are challenging in such a great way. not to put people off or be defensive, just challenge people to think…thanks for being an awesome vessel.

  • Personally, I thought that video was disturbing. You’d never know that the lyrics were written by a strong Christian. I agree with Ms. Bowman above, Satan’s lies are everywhere!

  • Good thing to find you people thinking this over.
    I heard this song while on a public bus, travelling through Europe and some songs hit my feeling.
    Willing to learn more, I googled a bit and found this song.
    Indeed, its better to be careful with this.
    The singer uses a formula in which several familliar elements can be found.
    He insinuates to hang himself because of the befallen tragedy. The succes of the songtext is not too hard to explain for Christians being familliar with the selfless love of God, who invites the peoples of this world to Himself by Jesus Christ.
    There is definitely such strong element of this love noticeable when hearing the song. But than again, it’s getting rather interesting for the excentric selflove of man who wants to have nothing to do with Christ, when the idolatry of self-love can play the major role by saying it’s “too late”. This insinuates to result in death rather than life, as God has promised even to be the outcome in utter despair!
    Excentricity to Gods love is what this world truly adores.
    Darkened understanding or sheer ignorance gives place to rejoice in the merciless attitude of a world which is still under the domain of the killer from the beginning.
    Indeed a very interesting formula to entice!
    (hopefully I spoke with the same impact to my own soul)

  • Only to come back on the cases of Peter and Judas Iscariot: I think there where yet many differences between the two.
    In the case of Peter we find that he stumbled and fell while actually following the Lord, but failed to do so in his own (overestimated) strength.
    In case of Judas we find a much deeper problem: willful apostasy. He had been following Christ for quite a while, being in the full awareness of things he wanted to commit.
    The personal question of the other disciples about their possible betrayal, originated from sincerity since they knew themselves to be sinners, but they all stepped forward in a way to plead to be helped. They had seen their brethren in despair of their sins and believed the Lord had the goodness to help them out.
    Yes, following the Lord Jesus is often accompanied with a lot of struggle, but this is meant to teach us to refrain from any self invented ways and will make us utterly dependent upon the way of the Lord Himself.
    And for sure, opposite the judgement and deeds of the world, this dependence will unleash the believer from the only rope around his neck: slavery of sin.
    Jesus Christs sets people free!

  • To Seth, and prior posters. I can appreciate the sentiment “It’s never too late to apologize or to seek healing in relationships.” Afterall, the world turns in circles. However, in this case that is not the singer’s message. In fact, he is telling another, “it’s too early to apologize.” Oh and, there’s no suicidal reference. He says “I’m holding on your rope / Got me ten feet off the ground.” It requires some creative manipulation to produce a hanging from those words. More likely, the visual is of a person grasping on to the end of a long rope, hanging on to his way of life, uncomfortable however it may be, only to fall. Way to oversimplify, convolude and misunderstand relatively simple artistic expression! 😉

  • Matt,

    You’re right on the rope. I don’t see that either.

    I don’t see the “too early to apologize” idea in the lyrics. She’s coming back to him too late. He’s already said goodbye to her in his heart.

  • Well, What Seth told about this’s song probably right. I almost hearing that song day by day. If we read the lyric maybe Ryan “as christian” who wrote this song have other reason to read this. But for said “too early to apologize” i agree will all of you guys. As christian, Jesus already teach us to apologize, even for us as human its difficult and hard. I ever fight with my brother in law cause something. I never talk to him after that, but when i do that i never feel peace. Until in Christmas 2007 he came again to my house, n i dont know why something make me move to say apologize to him, even i know he was wrong. But nothing more beautifull than let it go and give apologize to someone, and never said late to do that.

    All of us here maybe ever have problem, that might be make us dont wanna forgive it. But apologize really make us peace.

  • Everyone born of God has to know that there is no time to be described as too to apologize. If we are to be followers of Christ we must apolize when we offend others. And we must accept such apology from a sincere heart.

  • Seth, do you ever sleep? Just kidding. Thanks for another message I needed to hear especially since I’m in Georgia for a few days. I appreciate your heart and your soul’s ambition. God is working powerfully in your life no doubt.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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