Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness and reconciliation

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  II Peter 3:15, 16 (KJV)

As I read the words of Peter in regards to Paul the Apostle, I recall a disagreement I had a number of years ago with a man in our church.  We had a sharp disagreement over a matter in the church and while we did not resort to insults or anything of the sort we did become upset with each other.  After a period of time I felt moved to go to this brother and in a spirit of Christ-like forgiveness seek to resolve the situation.  Imagine my relief when my brother in the Lord was openly receptive to my apologies and expressed a sincere desire to put the matter behind us and move forward.  I asked him if I might embrace him as a brother in Christ.  He readily agreed, and we did embrace one another.  This was a moment I will never forget.

Ever since that time, this man and I have gotten along better than we ever had before.  We have now worked together on a number of projects in the church and while we may not agree on every detail we do work together in a spirit of cooperation and unity.  Galatians chapter 2 shows how Peter and Paul went through a sharp disagreement over ministry to the gentiles.  Paul believed Peter was behaving one way toward gentile believers, but was different toward them in the presence of his fellow Jews.  Paul rightly viewed this as a form of hypocrisy on Peter’s part.  We can only imagine what sort of feelings the two men then felt from then on.  However, we come to II Peter 3 and we find the two men had apparently worked it out.

Just as I was relieved to be reconciled with my brother Christian at our church, I am relieved when I read how Peter referred to Paul as “Brother Paul.”  We sense here that the two had reached some sort of mutual respect and shared brotherhood.  Their disagreements, however severe, were overcome by the love of Jesus Christ working in their hearts.  This is the power of Christ in us.  We no longer have to carry around ill-will, grudges, and bad feelings for other people.  These are overcome through faith in the Lord.

No doubt you have gone through a disagreement with someone to the point of hurt feelings.  I would urge you not to give up on the person and of somehow being reconciled.  When we do as Jesus said and pray for others, even those who have spitefully mistreated us (Matthew 5:44), we gain peace in our hearts regardless of the outcome.  Then, if we are reconciled to our brother or sister in Christ, we have overcome the dark forces which so often divide us.  This will never be easy, yet it is indeed possible.  Pray for others no matter what, and you will find peace and spiritual victory.

May the Lord richly bless you today.