Reconciliation III: Withholding Forgiveness

What if restoration of relationship depended on you?  Would there be reconciliation? If we cannot extend grace in tough relationships, how can we tell others about this great grace of God? We cannot withhold forgiveness from others when we have been forgiven ourselves…

14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
2Samuel 14:14

“if… you remember that your brother has something against you… be reconciled to your brother… settle matters quickly.
Matthew 5:23

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… 15 His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Ephesians 2:14-18

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2Corinthians 5:16-19

What if reconciliation depended on you?  What if the restoration of relationship between you and others depended on you?  Would there be reconciliation?  Or would things stay estranged?  Would the people who feel banished from relationship have a chance?  Not after what they did.  Not after what they said.  That thing is unforgivable.  There is no going back after all that.

Think about the story of Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom (2Samuel 13-14).  Could there be a way back from that?  Rape, murder, and rejection – the brokenness in King David’s family appears irreparable. Maybe it’s like that in your family.  If reconciliation depended on you, given what you have been through, maybe there is not going back.  It’s too far, right?.

When we consider our own relationships with God, we might think our sin has placed us too far gone – too far away from God to return.  The good news is, however, that our reconciliation with God isn’t based on how bad we are broken.

Our reconciliation with God is based on whether we have faith in Jesus.

Jesus teaches us (John 3:18) that whoever does not believe in him stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  Over the last couple of days we have been looking at how we can become estranged from each other and God, and even banished from relationship because of sin.  Isaiah describes it this way: all of us like sheep have gone astray – each one has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).  Sin has put a strain on our relationships with each other and with God.

The amazing truth in Jesus’ words, however, is that our eternal relationship with God is actually based on our belief in the name of Jesus himself.  We stand condemned before God because we don’t have faith in God’s plan for our reconciliation to him.  Remember what the wise woman from Tekoa said to King David (2Samuel 14:14): “God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.”  That’s Jesus.

Jesus is our path to reconciliation with God and with each other. God has reconciled us to himself through Jesus, not counting our sins against us (2Corinthians 5:18-19).  And so we see that our reconciliation with God is not dependent on us – our reconciliation with God depends on Jesus.  And that reconciliation sets the stage for our reconciliation with each other.

We cannot withhold forgiveness from others when we have been forgiven by God. Do a quick summary in your head of all your sins against God in your life.  Just a quick summary.  It would take all day.  Even the quickest summary of our sin would take more time than we have because we have sinned so much.

God has devised a way, through Jesus, so that all that sin can be forgiven. And if we can be forgiven for the wealth of our sin, why do we hold onto one or two or five sins that other person committed against us?  Does our withholding of forgiveness match and reflect the great grace we have received in Jesus?  We better get this right, people, because just as God reconciled us through Jesus, 2Corinthians 5:19 reveals that God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation – we are Christ’s ambassadors.

And if we cannot extend grace in the tough relationships in our lives how in the world can we tell the world about this great grace of God?


Marc Kinna

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