God is on our Side

In the fifth chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul emphasizes God’s desire for reconciliation with those who are separated from Him.

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Reconciliation between offended parties can be very tedious and difficult work. Many will tell you that unless both parties are truly dedicated to being reconciled, a disagreement or a feud can go on for years or even for life. This is true whether in personal relationships, or in those between whole groups of people or nations.

These words to the Corinthians confirm for us that God, on His part, is dedicated to reconciliation with us, the people of the world. This availability for reconciliation demonstrates to us God’s great love, for as the text says, He is willing to overlook our trespasses in order to restore our relationship. This is astounding considering that we are the ones who rejected God in the first place, and who have rejected Him with our sinful actions too many times to count.

It is a good thing that Jesus supports the concept of forgiving someone “490 times” in Matthew 18. It is a good thing that “God is love” according to 1 John 4, and that love “does not take into account a wrong suffered,” according to the famous love passage of 1 Corinthians 13.

Many people get this picture backwards. They think of themselves as the innocent party who was just minding their own business, when all of a sudden God marched up with a list of unreasonable demands that had to be met or the relationship would be severed. But scripture, as we have seen, just does not fit that picture. God is actually the one who is willing to overlook the past and invite us back into His arms. God is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” according to 2 Peter 3:9.

We are going to have to humble our pride if we are to come to Him. We cannot portray Him as a demanding tyrant who forces us to jump through hoops for His own arbitrary reasons. Rather, God, like a loving parent, knows what is best for us and calls us gently and lovingly to follow the path of life.

The apostles found themselves as ambassadors on Christ’s behalf, literally begging for God’s estranged children to return to Him. God wants us to be with Him! He wants everyone to be with Him! He is on our side! So much so that He would not only overlook our sins against Him, but that He even sent His own Son to die at our hands, who even then prayed “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

God is pulling for us. His invitation to life still stands. In the words of Jesus, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

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Open Communication

Some of the most common advice we hear for building strong and healthy relationships is to understand the importance of open communication.

But therapists and relationship experts are not the only one’s who emphasize communication. The Bible also teaches the value of talking to each other about what is really going on in our hearts and lives.

We should communicate:

When we have a word of instruction, encouragement, or praise:
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

With a brother or sister is in spiritual danger through sin:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
(Galatians 6:1)

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

When WE have sinned and need healing:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

When we have offended each other:
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
(Matthew 5:23-24)

When we are concerned about one another:
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.” (Poverbs 12:25)

When we feel burdened:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Perhaps most importantly, our communication must not be only horizontal (with each other,) but also vertical (with God.) Listen to David as he speaks of the difference it made in his life when he truly opened up to his God:

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.  Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found.” (Psalm 32:3-6)