Recently I had a disagreement with a loved one. This loved one said things that were very hurtful. In the thick of the argument I became resentful and angry. I wanted to lash out, maybe in my own defense, maybe with a bit of pride, who knows, but all I knew is that I was angry and the offense against me seemed so unfair. In my troubles I went into prayer. But immediately the Lord spoke this verse:
Matthew 5:23-24 “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
But I couldn’t. How could I reconcile with a brother in Christ who had offended me so harshly? How could I be the one to seek amends when I knew that I had been trespassed against without reason? How can you speak to someone who is still angry and who’s unwilling to make amends as well?
So I went into prayer again and again, and repeatedly the Lord gave me the same verse, “…be reconciled to your brother…” My carnal eyes saw no reconciliation in sight. But in the Spirit, the Lord saw it’s need.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Because of this, I had to figure out why God would ask this of me and not the other person. I had to look deeper into the disagreement, and I realized that the fire of the tongue had at some point taken over and I had not behaved in the kindest manner in my own anger. I realized that even though I had felt trespassed against, I too kept that disagreement going by attempting to defend myself, when I had a choice to walk away, ignore the offense, and go into prayer to ask the Lord how I should handle the situation.
James 3:6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
I realized I had failed. And if the Lord was asking me to take the initiative to make amends, well then that could mean a few different things. One, I may have been offensive myself toward my loved one. Two, that love one might have blocked out the voice of the Lord calling them to make amends (or they were being just as stubborn as I was.) Three, this was a place of growth for me that the Lord wanted me to overcome. I had to accept options 1 and 3 because it related to me directly and was the only truth I knew firsthand.
I had to think back on Jesus. How many times was He accused of committing a crime, yet He remained steadfast in His faithfulness to the Father. Time after time He maintained His composure, He held onto His peace, and refused to engage in disagreements with others. He would righteously give His response and quickly end the debate, or He would choose to ignore His trespassers in silence.
Matthew 10:22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
My stomach turned as I realized I had done neither of the two. Even after the disagreement I remained angry and hurt by the loved one’s words. I had let it fester and tug at me. It literally made me sick to my stomach. How could I fix this? I had to listen for the voice of the Lord to direct and guide me. I knew that God was giving me the chance to right my wrongs and try again, and this would help me grow spiritually. It didn’t matter who I thought was right or wrong – what mattered was what God was asking me – requiring me – to do: make amends.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
There’s a difference between righteous anger and uncontrolled anger. One defends the Spirit and the other defends the flesh. We are not called to be judges, but to sow in love. Anger becomes sin because it violates God’s command to love. Anger can easily lead us out of control like a wildfire – we would have no control over where it’s going to burn or what damage will be done by it. If we are consumed with anger we cannot develop a spirit that is pleasing to God.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
In the story of Jacob and Esau, we learn that the two brothers carried offenses against one another. Jacob had taken the inheritance of his brother, but in Esau’s anger he failed to realize his own offense that he had also given it away. Anger is a natural response to a human offense. But we must be in control of our emotions by praying for the strength to endure until the Lord provides a solution. We have to take responsibility for our own shortcomings regardless of why. And we must maintain our righteousness in God.
In this story we see God change the hearts of both Esau and Jacob. Over the time that the Lord blessed Jacob, Jacob became remorseful and missed his brother. We know this because once Jacob is free to leave Laban’s land with all his wealth and family, the first thing he sets out to do is to make amends with his brother Esau. He sends messengers ahead of him to give his brother a friendly word of reconciliation, (Genesis 32).
Jacob prays to the Lord and give thanks for his many blessings. He reminds the Lord of His promise to protect Jacob and to be kind to him. Then he asks to be rescued from the hand of his brother. In this, Jacob is asking for not just protection, but for peace and reconciliation.
Genesis 33:3-4 “3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. 4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.”
God was able to do what man could not do alone. He reconciled the two brothers and they shared in the inheritance. Our true inheritance comes from God. Peace, love and reconciliation are attributes of the Holy Spirit. Anger that is uncontrolled is not a righteous anger, and therefore is from the world, not the Spirit. The Lord tells us,
Matthew 5:22 “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
God does not wish that anyone one of us should perish as we see in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
The Lord will give us opportunities to grow spiritually so that we would become holy and righteous, and not be influenced by things of the world. God is constantly speaking to us and urging us to remain in Him. When adverse situations occur, we have to maintain the peace that we have been given through Christ Jesus, the same peace in which He operated when the world was against Him. This peace is our gift and we cannot allow the enemy to steer us in the wrong direction. Jesus is our example of how to respond to adversity, and this is what we must follow.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the gift of reconciliation. We thank You for giving us the opportunity to right our wrongs and to be righteous in the Spirit. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us when situations arise. We thank You for Your still quiet voice that speaks to us even in our stubbornness. I bind and rebuke any pride that may hold us back from reconciling with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We know that even when it’s difficult for us to try and fix things for ourselves, Your power is mighty and You will bring reconciliation into the hearts of the willing. Help us to have willing hearts, Lord, that we would not sin in our anger, but would seek righteousness. Fill us with Your peace that surpasses all understanding and comfort from the Holy Spirit when situations arise that we cannot control, but where we can try to control how we react. Thank You Lord for second chances. In Jesus’ mighty and precious name we pray, Amen.
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