Friday, April 22, 2016
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When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. Matthew 5:25(NLT)
Yesterday, in Part 1, we talked about receiving forgiveness, and how that’s everyone’s deepest need. Jesus also said it’s everyone’s legacy.
Your legacy is what you leave behind.
And in relationships, both spiritually, and with family and your community, what legacy you leave depends on the forgiveness you’ve been willing to extend and receive. The judge Jesus mentioned in our text is not some Superior or Supreme Court judge; He’s talking about the Father.
When you mention legacy and forgiveness in the same breath you have to think of Joseph. Joseph was thrown into the pit, and sold into slavery….by his brothers! In the end he didn’t spew bitterness, he extended forgiveness.
You also have to think of Esau and Jacob – but particularly Esau. When Jacob stole his brother’s blessing and birthright, the anger welled-up in Esau and he swore he’d kill him. Twenty years later he had the opportunity, but instead Esau welcomed his lying brother home with open arms. The testimony of that was out of Jacob’s own lips: …for truly seeing your face is like seeing the face of God. (Genesis 33:10 NRSV)
Perhaps the best Old Testament example of all is the Prodigal son. In one immature, poor decision he squandered his inheritance and the family’s good name. When he came back he deserved to be ridiculed and rejected. If his brother had any say in the matter he would’ve also been hung!
But the father welcomed him back from the pigpen with open arms; he put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet and a royal robe on his back. Then he threw the biggest party the county had ever seen. He was forgiven!
Do you think God has a message in all that for our world today?
“Reconciliation” is what Paul called it; this is the ministry of the church. Forgiveness is the work of this reconciliation.
Today the world is anything but reconciled and in peace. Anger, harshness and retaliation rule the day.
And, sadly, it’s not much better in the church. No wonder Jesus wept!
The world needs a message of reconciliation in this dark hour; we all need to hear how a Savior died to set us free from the darkness. And if this ministry of reconciliation is the work Jesus entrusted to the church, the best chance this generation has of seeing that is in how we treat one another!
So…the questions remain:
What will we do with that?
Will we continue in the dark?
Will we continue our squabbles and anger and division?
Or will we who are the church of Jesus Christ offer these hearts of ours to God and each other, with weeping, tears and repentance at the altar?
God is willing to mend our brokenness; what will we do?