“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." [Matthew 5:23-24]
My journey with reconciliation began over 15 years ago. It was clear - there were people I had hurt (either directly or indirectly) and God asked me to make things right. It was one of the most challenging ventures God had ever "called" me to and 15 years later my journey continues.
The hardest actions to reconcile were those I was naive about. Things I did or said that I thought I was being sincere about, or things that I thought were helpful or supportive. Yet those very actions were often destructive and sometimes caused confusion. It wasn't until I was lovingly confronted about my behavior (by Godly friends) that I came to realize how hurtful my actions had been.
In the beginning of my journey to reconcile these things I went on a road trip to meet face to face with those people I had hurt. I was scared about the conversations I would initiate but I knew it was the right thing to do. Surprisingly, each person I met with on that trip extended grace to me and embraced me as an important part of their life. I didn't deserve that but was thankful for the outcome.
With others I wrote letters asking for forgiveness for pain I had caused by my actions or hurtful words. Sometimes I received replies accepting my forgiveness, sometimes I received threats and sometimes I never heard back from the person. There are still times that I wonder whether or not I did enough to truly reconcile with those I didn't hear back from.
But while reconciliation benefits the person on the receiving end it is primarily for the offender.
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer, the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
—Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915)
Tonight I sent four new letters of reconcialtion. All four letters very different in nature - one to someone I knew briefly, the second to someone from my past, the third to a good friend and the fourth letter to a business associate. Yet all three had one primary goal: to ask for forgiveness for something I said or did (recently or a very long time ago) so that I might be reconciled to my brother.
I may or may not hear back from any of them, but that's not why I wrote to them. Being reconciled to them is what I need. And it is the right thing to do.
The Godly thing.