How many times have you found yourself in a difficult situation with someone else and asked God for help against that person? What if it was another Christian. With whom, then, would God side? If God would help one and not the other, would He then be against Himself? Would His grace abound in one person and not the other? I’ve contended with this dilemma many times in my life. If God is for us then who can be against us? Only we can be against each other.
When a brother or sister of the faith offends you, do you feel righteous in your actions and therefore assume that God is for you and against them? Or, do you ask God if you are the offensive party and need correction? Ultimately, we know God doesn’t want us to offend one or the other. In Psalm 35 we find David in a predicament where he is persecuted and against many enemies and he is crying out to God for help, but don’t miss his own humility. In verse 13 he talks about humbling himself with fasting and prayer. Fasting is a way to draw near to God: to seek forgiveness and ask for wisdom. He talks about being compassionate towards those who persecuted them and trying to help them in their affliction. In verse 19 he uses the terminology those who were wrongfully my enemies. He checked himself and asked the Lord to show him what he may have done wrong to deserve such treatment and confirmed that he is innocent in the matter.
When we contemplate conflict, it is very easy for us to feel as though we are in the right, justified, and righteous. However, if we are not always seeking reconciliation, forgiveness, and unity in Spirit, then we are wrong. It doesn’t matter who started it. It matters that we take responsibility for our part by humbling ourselves before the Lord and asking Him to reveal to us where we wronged the other party. We must ask forgiveness not just from God but also from them (how difficult is that!). In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about this unity:
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
How often do we violate this call to unity and peace as the body of Christ? How often do we allow the spirit of offense override our dedication to the Spirit of Peace? Do you feel someone has wronged you? Are you offended by the actions of others? Don’t accuse them of wrongdoing, ask God for wisdom and healing and peace in the matter. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him where you are wrong first. Reconcile with your fellow human being. Repent of your own wrong doing. Then, once that is out of the way, forgive their offenses. In John 20, Jesus is revealing Himself as the resurrected Lord to the disciples and once they fully believe it is Him, He does this:
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
Jesus gives us the power to forgive sins. If we are in the Kingdom, then we have full access to the Kingdom’s resources, one of the most profound which is the power of forgiveness. For, as Jesus taught about prayer in Mark 11:25
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
We are able to receive this power of forgiveness from God by bestowing it upon others. When we bless, we receive blessing. When we curse (i.e. refuse to forgive) we keep ourselves living under the curse of unforgiveness.