Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mid-Week Message - A Painful Lesson

"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God."  Matthew 5:23-24 (MSG)

Over the past couple of weeks, God has had a particular friend in my mind and on my heart. Normally, when the Lord keeps bringing someone to my mind, it is because there is something going on in that person's life that needs to be prayed for so I assumed that was the reason this time as well.  The feeling became so strong that I finally picked up the phone yesterday and called.  

I found out quickly why the feeling had been so intense.  As my friend spoke, I heard deep hurt and that I was the reason for it.  The last time we had spoken, this friend was hospitalized and I had given my word that I would call the next day.  I failed to do that.  Not only did I not call the following day, but it was now the middle of June and I had never called during that time.  My first instinct was to make excuses.  We had been busy getting ready to move then.  After the move, I went through a bit of depression as I sought to adapt to new surroundings and being in an area I was unfamiliar with.  However, none of my reasons were sufficient to cover that fact that I had broken my word and wounded a person who is dear to me.  

The shame I felt was crushing.  I knew that I needed to seek forgiveness both from my friend and from the Father.  As I listened to the depth of the pain that I had caused, I was convicted also that I had very poorly represented the love of Christ.  Jesus always keeps His word.  When I confessed Him as my Savior and Lord, I vowed to walk with Him, to honor Him, and to love others as He loves them.  He speaks only the truth.  Whether I had meant to or not, I had lied.  

Today, I am deeply grateful.  Because my friend was honest with me, my sin was brought to light.  Though I had never intended to cause pain, that is exactly what I had done.  We were able to talk and I was very graciously forgiven.   I do not take that lightly.  Had this person chosen never to speak to me again, I would have understood.  It is difficult sometimes to open our hearts to others because we want to protect ourselves from the emotional damage they can inflict.  As Christians, we must be careful to follow through with what we promise.  Jesus leaves each of us better than He finds us.  That is our responsibility as well.  

I learned a tremendous amount yesterday.  I learned that my friend's heart is very tender, precious and forgiving.  I saw how easily pain can be inflicted when we do not honor our promises.  I also experienced the chastening of the Lord which was followed by His ready love and forgiveness.  

Life is full of teachable moments.  This was my most recent one, but there have been many in the past and will be many in the future, I am sure.  My prayer is that we will each examine our relationships both with other people and with our Father.  If He brings anything to mind, we need to listen closely and ask Him to show us what we need to do.  His desire is that we become more Christ-like and He will lead us down the right paths if we are willing to take them.  May you all have an insightful and blessed week.  

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