It was on this day in 1927 that, in a public letter written to Louis Marshall, Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company retracted and apologized for the spurious, “Protocol of the Elders of Zion.” As you may know, this publication made fantastic accusations and claims against individual Jews and against Judaism at large, saying there was a great Jewish conspiracy to destroy the world. Though a lot of damage had been done, at least, Mr. Ford had the courage to publicly concede his error and apologize for his sin. Unfortunately, damage is still being done by this publication.
There are two lessons we can learn from this. The first is that just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean it’s right to say it. Like a bullet that’s fired from a gun, once you’ve pulled the trigger, you can’t get that bullet, or those words in this case, back in the chamber. Our idle words are out there and has the potential to do a lot of damage. As we read in Proverbs 18:
“A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.cThe words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.” (Proverbs 18:7-8)
Furthermore, the psalmist tells us that bitter words are like arrows that the wicked use to shoot at their target, many times trying to do it in secret. (Psalms 64:3-4)
The other lesson we can learn from Mr. Ford’s misstep is that, when we have offended, we should do what’s right and strive to make amends. That should be a no-brainer for believers but, unfortunately, there are those believers who feel the best way to handle a situation is to ignore the situation. They pray and ask God to forgive them of what they’ve done, but sometimes, make no effort to go to the person whom they’ve offended and acknowledge the wrong that’s been done. That is not the correct way to handle a situation. Jesus told us this:
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
If we wish for things to be the way they’re supposed to be between us and God, then we must make things right with our brother. This is tied to the principle of the two primary commands: “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Pretending that nothing happened doesn’t really bring a resolution to the problem. That other person may be thinking that “They did wrong and didn’t make the effort to make things right.”
Sometimes we just have to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” and let the other person know that we realize that we did wrong. I have long believed and am convinced that sin is not the greatest problem facing mankind. The reason I say that is because there is a recourse for sin. Forgiveness is available because of the suffering and subsequent resurrection of the Messiah. So what is the greatest problem facing mankind? I my view it’s the failure to acknowledge our sin. Given that there is recourse for confessed sin, what can be done if a person fails to acknowledge their sin? What’s the resolution? Therefore, when it’s called for, make sure to say to God and to your neighbor, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” If Henry Ford can do it, then certainly believers can.