This is a follow up to yesterday’s post and isn’t easy to write because it stings me to remember how I have failed. However, along with my failures, I am reminded of God’s grace. Let me explain. Paul describes me in Romans 7:15 and following (Read this passage slowly)…
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 18 I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 23 I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There have been more times than I’d like to remember when I have transgressed against God and my fellow-man. I have said and done things that wounded people… and I didn’t know it. Sometimes I did it and didn’t mean to. Sadly, there have been times I purposefully said or did something to make a point and/or put someone in their place (God forgive me!).
When I realized what I (!) had done, I was grieved. The realization of my failures came about as a result of prayer. I had spent a few months asking God to: 1) Make me more like Jesus, 2) Reveal to me my blind spots. It was the second request that resulted in the previous paragraph’s specific occurrences.
As a result I knew I couldn’t just ask God to forgive me, I had to make an effort to contact individuals and ask THEM to forgive me. And if there was something I needed to do to make it right, then it needed to be done. So I contacted as many people as I could think of, with God’s help, so I could seek reconciliation. What I write next only a very few people know about. Aside: I am not writing this you to think anything of me, but to suggest what it might take if God deals with you about like things. Consider…
Matthew 5:23 If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
James 5:15 The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
Here are some of the things I did to seek reconciliation. I contacted people from High School that I thought I had offended. I contacted a professor from seminary about how I cut corners on some assignments. I contacted every staff member I ever served with in a church to ask if I’d done anything I needed to make right. I contacted the pastor of a church I served previously and requested to talk with the deacons or church to confess my shortcomings while I was their pastor. I contacted a guy from my college fraternity to ask his forgiveness. I talked with my dad. I talked with each of my kids and asked them to forgive me for my mistakes as their dad. And I asked my wife to forgive me for my failures as her husband. (That’s enough… you get the idea)
Several times people didn’t remember what I was talking about. Most often people were gracious and granted forgiveness. One person walked away without saying anything. One said they’d get back with me, and didn’t. One person (After calling twice and writing a letter twice) never responded. Every time I was scared. Every time I was nervous. Every time I prayed and put the outcome in God’s hand. And afterward I knew I had done what God required of me.
For what a genuine apology sounds like go here… https://pastorron7.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/genuine-apology/.
Is it possible that there are people you need to confess failure to and seek reconciliation? If so, don’t put it off. Don’t ignore The Spirit’s promptings. Be obedient to God. Keep His commandment as found in Matthew 5:23-24 above. “Honor God and He will honor you” (1 Samuel 2:30b).