Jonathan's Perspective  

May 1

'More than a Sentiment'

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom 12:18)

This passage is an incredible challenge to us as Christians.  Paul is telling us that it is each of our responsibilities to take the first step toward peace.  We are not to wait for the other person to apologize or to come to us to tell us that we hurt him or her.  We have to take the initiative.

Jesus teaches two profound commands in the gospel of Matthew.  First, in Matthew 5:23-25 Jesus says, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."  In other words we are to act on the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  This takes great humility that is contrary to our ego's pride.  Our natural reaction is to avoid our confession, and hope that everything will blow over.  Sometimes we even avoid the person all together out of guilt and fear of being put on the spot about the wrong we have committed.  Jesus is exceeding clear.  As Paul wrote, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Rom 12:18)

Second, Jesus teaches in Matthew 18 that it is our responsibility to initiate reconciliation when someone has sinned against us.  "If a brother sins against you, go and tell him his sin just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you will have gained a brother."  Again, this is contrary to our nature.  We want the other person to grovel.  We want him or her to feel the pain of guilt even though most of the time they do not even realize that they have offended.  We talk behind their back and try to gain the sympathy of others rather than resolve the issue with the person.  We nurse our anger and resentments until it eats us up.  It is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  However, listen to the great reward Jesus holds out to us - gaining a brother or sister!  So don't hold back from taking the initiative when someone has hurt you.

If this seems impossible... well, it is under our own strength.  Remember that our Good and Gracious God loves us and has given us the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot in our own wisdom, personalities, emotions, and negative experiences.  All the resources of heaven are available to you!  Seek the Lord in your prayers about relationships in which you are called - in as far at it depends on you - to bring peace.  You can't control the outcome, but with God's help, you can do your part.

Jonathan

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