If You’ve Got A Fire In Your Basement, Don’t Wait Until Oprah Is Over

It’s hard to believe, but lovable me has sinned against people at times.? Surely you jest, you say.? I know, it’s hard to imagine.? Right now some of you are saying, oh if only the other readers knew….

Believers in Jesus are new creations. ?He?s paid for our sins, given us new hearts and put his Spirit in us. ?Our new nature is now our dominant nature and our old sin nature no longer controls us.? It’s been crucified, but it?s not yet dead. ?We don?t want to sin, but we still do. And often against believers. ?When we do, God calls us to do all we can to seek reconciliation. ?In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us.

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. (Matthew 5:23-24)

The context of this passage is worship – you?re offering your gift at the altar. ?Suddenly you remember your brother has something against you. ?You remember that you?re not reconciled.

What are you to do? ?Drop everything. ?Leave your gift and go. ?The emphasis is on taking care of things quickly – IMMEDIATELY. ?Deal with offenses as quickly as you can. ?Don?t think I?ll do it later. ?After worship. It?s almost as if God is saying, I?m not going to accept your worship until you get reconciled. ?Reconciliation is top priority. ?Go now. ?Don?t wait another second.

If I knew I had a fire in my basement, I?d do something about it right away. ?I wouldn?t say, ?I?ll get to that after Oprah.? ?I?d deal with it immediately.

We must go to our brother or sister. ?Don?t say that?s their problem, I didn?t do anything wrong. ?If she?s got a problem with me, let her come to me. ?Sometimes in my pride I?ve thought, ?What! ?How could he have a problem with ME? ?Lovable, easy-going, sinless ME?? ?Go, lovable you.

The goal is to repair the relationship – ?be reconciled to your brother.? God?s children aren?t to allow bitterness to fester. ?We must repair breaches quickly. ?And when I go, I need to desire to really hear where he feels I?ve sinned against him and try to see it. ?My goal is not to go to defend myself but to be reconciled (though sadly at times, that?s been my reaction – What? ?Hey, you don?t know my heart. ?I didn?t drop the ball. ?I?m perfectly kind and considerate to all at all times. ?Hey, this is Mr. Love we?re talking about, here). ?I should go assuming I have a log in my eye and might not be able to see it right away.

It takes humility to go. ?Sometimes I?ve been offended that they?re offended. ?Anybody love listening to others tell them about their sin?

Once a friend of mine was struggling with me, though I had no idea why. ?I was sure I hadn?t done anything wrong to him. ?Another friend encouraged me to call my friend and ask if we could meet with the goal of me trying to see my sin. ?When we met I?d take notes without making a single defense or excuse. ?After taking notes and asking questions, where convicted of sin I?d ask forgiveness. ?If I really couldn?t see it I could say, ?I?m not quite seeing my sin now but I could be completely blind, so I?ll take these notes and think and pray about them.? ?Then thank him for sharing with me.

We don?t always have do it precisely like this. ?There can be discussion and sharing our side, but we should make our main goal not defend ourselves or blame the other guy, but see our own sin and be reconciled.

I believe it?s important to ask forgiveness when we see our sin. To say, ?I?m sorry if I offended you? is weak. ??If I offended you?? ?Sounds like you don?t know if you did or not. ?If you sinned ask forgiveness. ??I?m sorry? seems weak – it sounds like ?I feel bad.? ?Obviously, don?t get hung up on whether someone uses the precise words – it?s the heart that matters.

Is there anyone you know who?s struggling with or offended at you? ?Ask if you can meet. ?Don?t apologize in an email. ?Talk to them face to face if possible. ?If they live far away, call them.

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.