CHURCH CORNER: Resolutions should include reconciliation

OK, Christmas is now officially behind us, and here we are mapping out what our 2011 is going to look like. We’ve got some resolutions we know we want to set, you know the usual: lose 10 to 20 pounds, make more money, etc., etc. 

As Christians, we often make some spiritual resolutions too: read the Bible more, go to church more, pray more, etc. It is a good thing to want to be closer to God and to set up some structure to help facilitate that desire. However, when we’re making our plans this year we should strongly consider a very important thing God has for us to do. Here’s what Jesus says in the book of Matthew.

“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and you are about to make an offering and you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (Matthew 5:23-24 Message).

Jesus himself is letting us know that before any gift is made to him, we need to make things right with our fellow man. Dang it, why can’t we just pray a little longer, won’t that be enough? As far as Christ is concerned, unity and love are a top priority. 

To make things right among friends who have been offended is a tough resolution, indeed. It takes a tough inward look. Who have I ticked off? What relationship is currently at a standstill due to bitterness and unforgivingness? 

Who is at fault is not the question. The question is this: how long will I delay obedience to make love and unity as important to me as it is to God? Sometimes we justify and rationalize why we shouldn’t have to be the person who takes the initiative in reconciliation: “They started it.” “It was their fault.” “They haven’t said they’re sorry.”

The Apostle Paul’s instruction is so clear and concise: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NLT).

Why should we have to step out of our comfort zones to make things right with the people we have an issue with? The reason is because we are the ones who understand that Jesus took the initiative when we were yet still sinners. He made the first move to make things right with us. When we truly understand the grace he gives us on a daily basis, it empowers us to pass that same Christ-like grace and love on to others.

Keep in mind that when you forgive people you can be healed and free to receive God’s best in your life. However, you aren’t asking someone else for forgiveness so that you can be helped, but so they can be helped. If they tell you to take a long hike off a short cliff, well it’s now between them and God. 

This year, as you sit down at the table and write out your resolutions, I would encourage you to make reconciliation a top priority. Greater than losing 10 pounds or making 10 thousand more dollars is the reward of making things right with someone you have been at odds with.

Ask God for wisdom and guidance and allow him to give you the right words and the right timing. When you do all that and try to live at peace with everyone, you will receive a blessing and sense of accomplishment like no other. Happy New Year!

Dean Smith is the Director of Live To Forgive Ministries and teaches about forgiveness and love in churches around the world. He attends The Vine Christian Ministries in Seattle with his wife Molly and daughter Ava. Learn more at: www.livetoforgive.com.

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