Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the importance of sincere apology.
Devotee: If we make offences to a Vaiṣṇava, that will hurt our feelings of devotion. Will the chanting of the Holy Name eventually heal the pain of that damage to the creeper of devotion?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: The Holy Name heals offences, no doubt, but if I know I have made an offence to another Vaiṣṇava, apologising is very good, and that quickly removes the offence. That is good. But here lies a great difficulty. I have seen it. Some persons made offences to Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. When they understood they made offence, they came in a big group and apologised to Śrīla Guru Mahārāj. In this way, they followed Vaiṣṇavism. Their followers also knew that they had made Vaiṣṇava-aparādh—that they had offended Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj. The followers were not so happy, and I think, seeing the mood of their followers, they were also shy when they came to Guru Mahārāj to apologise. I saw the mood of Śrīla Guru Mahārāj at that time. When he heard they had come to apologise, he stood up and embraced them. He cried and said, “Oh! You have not made any offence to me. You are my dear sons. You can forget all of this. I am always pleased with you.” In this way, Śrīla Guru Mahārāj cried when he saw their apologetic mood. This type of heart is necessary for everybody. Then no problems will come.
But I have seen that sometime a Vaiṣṇava makes offence to another Vaiṣṇava, and when he comes to apologise, he is not happy. Sometimes I have seen this. He does not talk to the Vaiṣṇava happily. That is the difficulty. If he does not apologise in a happy mood, he will get a reaction. You have heard of a boomerang? His action will come back to him like that.
If someone who comes to apologise for making an offence to a Vaiṣṇava cannot do so with a clean heart and affection, that is bad. But it happens, what will you do? “To every action, there is equal and opposite reaction.” They will suffer. If they cannot follow, they will suffer. The nature of fire is to burn, and when you will play with fire, you must be careful. Living with Vaiṣṇavas is comparable to living near fire. It is difficult everywhere. There is difficulty in family life, and outside of family life—everywhere. Therefore, sympathetic dealings with the nature are necessary.