How good are you at at the “baby basics” of the Christian faith, forgiveness and reconciliation?
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:3-5 (KJV)
Can you imagine what Heaven would be like if Jesus said after He saved you “You can spend eternity here in Heaven, but you can’t spend any time with Me”. After a few thousand years of getting the cold shoulder from Jesus, you might start to wonder if He really forgave you at all. And so it is with the Christian who can (begrudgingly) forgive their offending brother or sister in the faith, but then not ever do the “other thing” the Bible talks about. What “other thing” you ask? This thing:
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” 2 Corinthians 5:18 (KJV)
We have as Christians have the Ministry of Reconciliation
Have you ever had someone really hurt you? Perhaps it was a betrayal of confidence, a betrayal of friendship, slanderous gossip, or “fill in the blanks”. Perhaps you were the one doing the hurting, and really did damage to another brother or sister. The Bible commands us, in any dispensation, to forgive those who have hurt us and to ask forgiveness when we have done the hurting. That’s the first step. Most, not all, but most Christians I know can muster up the spiritual fortitude to accomplish this basic baby step. But to do the “other thing” required of us in the Age of Grace, to be reconciled to our brother or sister, that is as rare as the proverbial hen’s tooth.
Maybe you are well-versed in Bible prophecy, can understand the intricacies of Biblical dispensations, teach Sunday School, and can preach up a storm. That’s great, but how good are you at at the “baby basics” of the Christian faith, forgiveness and reconciliation? Hmm, I think I just lost half the crowd.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (KJV)
Take a moment and think about the people who used to be in your life, and for whatever reason are no longer there. Where did they go? True, sometimes friendships come to an end for whatever reason, that happens. People move on, outgrow each other. But think about the people you pushed out of your life because of actions you took or Christian charity you refused to show them.
Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from or show forgiveness to? And if so, do you have the courage to be reconciled with them? In case you’re wondering why you are so bad at doing this, please allow me to let you in on some of the “deeper truths” from the Bible. It is the sin of pride that prevents you from forgiving others, and it is the sin of pride that stops you from reconciling with them. Maybe you’ve mastered putting down drinking, swearing, smoking and fornicating. Yay! You could almost be a spiritual giant if you could just find a way to put down the deadliest of all sins – pride.
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13 (KJV)
Forgiveness and reconciliation is where “real” Christianity dwells, and few there be that trod that path. How about you, Christian? Who do you need to reconcile with? Forgiving each other is what Christians are commanded to do, but it is only half the job.
Go the extra mile. Be a spiritual giant. The only thing stopping you is your pride.