Do Whatever It Takes to Reconcile
Let me ask you a tough question: is there someone you need to forgive?
If there is, quite likely, it’s someone in your family. Perhaps it’s a parent . . . or a sibling . . . or even a spouse . . . maybe a relative. It could be someone in your congregation . . . or an elder or deacon. What keeps you from taking the initiative and making things right?
May I suggest the reason? Pride.
Let’s face it: no excuse keeps you from the biblical obligation to forgive that person. No self-justification . . . no plea of victimization . . . no “boundaries” veiled behind a bitter spirit. Nothing! Our implacable culture offers endless excuses. Only a narcissist uses someone else’s failure as leverage for manipulation. You and I know there’s a lot of that going on! There is no place in an arrogant life for forgiveness. At the same time, there is no place in a believer’s life for blame and bitterness. After all, don’t you preach against those things?
As believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, we are called to a different standard. His standard. That’s why our forgiveness of others is inseparably linked with God’s forgiveness of us. Look closely—and I mean very carefully—at the words of both Paul and Jesus:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . . For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:12, 14–15)
Those are hard statements, but essential.
Are you unforgiving toward someone? If so, according to Jesus, you are out of fellowship with God. That is why Christ commanded that you reconcile with others even before you come to worship (and certainly before you walk behind the pulpit):
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23–25)
If someone has asked you to forgive him or her, please be big enough to accept the grace of a confession. If that person has not asked for forgiveness, remember that God has commanded that you do so anyway.
When we cling to a painful memory, rather than choose to renew our minds (that’s part of forgiveness), we will suffer emotionally torturing wounds that are, tragically, self-inflicted (read thoughtfully Matthew 18:34–35).
I urge you to do whatever it takes to reconcile. Go to a biblical counselor for some assistance, if necessary. Pray for strength to obey. Humble yourself. Don’t go to your grave with that grudge.
For sure, don’t go to church with it.