At the core of the Gospel message is forgiveness that is offered to sinners through the atoning work of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Once an individual, by faith, receives the ultimate forgiveness that is rooted in grace and grace alone, they in turn are called to be vessels of the same type of forgiveness that they have received. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
In my devotional reading this morning I read the following words of Jesus, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions” (Mark 11:25-26).
Here we see that not only does our refusal to forgive, as we have been forgiven, create a breech between ourselves and another human being, it also compromises fellowship with our Father who is in heaven. It’s as if the heavens become brass when we refuse to forgive, holding our prayers at bay. What must we do to open up that vital connection again? We must forgive, from the heart, as God has forgiven us.
The restoration of relationships is so important that Jesus even addressed it from the other side of the issue. He said, “Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that you brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24).
In regards to forgiveness and reconciliation God hems us in on every side, showing us that reconciliation is our responsibility as Christians. If I have wronged another I am called to quickly offer my apologies and ask for forgiveness. And, if I know in my heart that another is harboring something against me, I don’t wait for them to make the first move, I make the first move.
All too often, Christians are standing waiting for another to make the first move in regards to reconciliation. According to Scripture, the first move is yours.
You might ask, “What happens if I make that first move, attempting to reconcile and it is thrown back in my face?” In that case, God’s Word says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). If you make every possible effort to reconcile with another and you find them irreconcilable, you are free to move on. There have been times in my life that I have gone to someone that I have wronged, attempting to make the wrongs right, and received in return hostility. At that point I have turned that other person over to God and ask for His healing in their lives. Some of those situations never changed, others, after as season were healed.
So, my brothers and sisters, whether you have wronged another or been wronged by another, the first move towards healing and reconciliation is your move, the sooner the better.