It's Time - Christ Our Reconciliation
CHRIST OUR RECONCILIATION – MATTHEW 18:21-35
V35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” We cannot be in the right with God if we are not also seeking to be in right relationship with others. Inseparable.
Life is a whole and its parts are inseparable - Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.1st John 4:19-21
- Obadiah – Edom condemned for its centuries-old undying hatred of Israel
- Isaiah 58 – their prayers not heard because of their unjust relationships
- Amos 5:21ff – their worship unbearable to God because of their greed, and oppression of the poor, the absence of righteousness and justice
- Matthew 5:24 – if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
- Ephesians 4:30-31 – do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption
Our hearts may be hardened against others and this means they will also be hardened against God. E.g. when Pharoah hardened his heart against Moses, it was also hardened against God.
Our hearts may become hardened because of hurt we have experienced.
A wounded heart may become bitter, angry. Hate can scar the soul and distort the personality. The devil uses it to blind us and warp our perceptions.
A hardened, bitter heart is a dangerous thing - . A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes, will suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy. Proverbs 29:1
What are the steps in forgiveness and seeking reconciliation?
- Face up to the real pain of the wrong we have suffered.
- Reject the urge to retaliate. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate.
- Adopt a positive attitude of goodwill towards the person who has hurt us. If we do forgive we will be set free. F another means to cancel the debt of what is owed in order to provide a door of opportunity for repentance and restoration of the broken relationship. Forgiveness opens up hope for both.
- In loving our enemies we are behaving like our heavenly Father. Matthew
Forgiveness may come quickly or slowly; and reconciliation is not always possible. In that case we seek to keep a pure heart and hand over the other person entirely to God and leave the matter with Him.
We can only give out of what we have received – so the only way we can find grace to forgive others is by continually living at the foot of the cross where God forgave the unpayable debt of our sin at the cost of the blood of Christ.
Our hearts may be hardened because of hypocrisy that we have witnessed. Hypocrisy will be exposed and judged on the day of judgement or even before it. Our concern should be to deal with it in our own life. We will answer to God for our own lives, not the lives of others.
Our hearts may be hardened because of unconfessed sin we have committed against others. We have been too proud to say sorry and to make reparation – humble yourself and make any amends necessary
Our hearts may be hardened because of the hold other people have upon us – this is the fear of man – but it is God with whom we have to do.
How do we replace a hard heart with a soft heart?
Walk in the light before God - come to Jesus just as you are and submit your life in its entirety to him to do his will in all your ways and relationships. Keep your eyes fixed on the ross and your heart will never go hard.
Believe your heart can be softened. We have a heart-changing, heart-replacing Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:26-27
Then grasp the vision and the goal God has for us all - community who work through differences and difficulties and sins to create a community of love and peace. Colossians 3:12-17
What power would be in the church if it became a community where love reigned; where the goal was to be a house of restoration, reconciliation and to equip people to be true peace-builders in their personal lives.