by: FCC Staff
Jesus knew this to be true and he teaches us to be cautious in how we relate to others, and when we do come into conflict, to resolve it as quickly as possible. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21-24)
Words matter and the confrontation of our hearts towards others matters a lot to God. In fact, if we are set to worship God, but remember a conflict with someone close to us is still unresolved, Jesus would have us leave our place of worship and go seek reconciliation. And just as we are able to come to God for forgiveness each time we let Him down, he wants us to leave the door open to reconciliation with others. “Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Not that we are supposed to keep track of and on the 78th time, say “No you have reached your limit” Jesus taught a parable after Peter asked this question where a servant won’t forgive the debt of his fellow servants, but expects his master to forgive his. The answer from the master is no. “ So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Jesus shows the real matter in that statement: Our hearts. If we cannot forgive our hearts will harden. As our proverb tells when we are in that state we are like a strong, walled city, or the bars of a castle. It’s hard to budge a hardened heart. And if we allow our hearts to become hard towards someone else, and they towards us, we are in a very bad place spiritually. Forgiveness is good for our hearts.
So today, while I may not see a path to reconciliation with someone as possible (perhaps even safe) we CAN and must forgive them, which means letting go of what we think they owe us and letting go of our anger towards them. To do otherwise runs the risk of hardening our hearts, not just towards them, but towards all the love in our lives, including God’s love.
Prayer for Today
Father, help me to be forgiving just as you are forgiving of me. Let me not grow stubborn and prideful when others have wronged me but seek to forgive them and move on. Jesus you have restored me from death to life, if it is in your will help me to restore my relationships to the healthy god-pleasing status you want them to play in my life. By your Holy Spirit give me the wisdom to be quick to forgive and eager to seek restoration when it is possible. Amen