by Clinton Faupel, CFaupel@RemedyLive.co
"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." – Jesus Christ teaching in Matthew 5:23-24
When God rescued me from my inebriation, I was only 18. My experimenting with drugs and alcohol began around 11 and between those years, I wounded a lot of people. My first spiritual mentor sent me on a journey after I came to Christ and he said to me, “Clinton, I want you to go to everyone you've ever wounded and seek forgiveness.”
What? Honestly, I was expecting something more like this: “Clinton, go show them the power of Jesus Christ in your life by telling them that they should change their behavior.” Rather, my assignment was go to seek forgiveness for how I wronged people.
So for the first two years of my Christian life I invested a lot of spare time seeking out people that I had wounded, whether by selling drugs to them, getting high with them, or an assortment of other wounds that I had wrought.
Some of them didn't understand the concept of forgiveness; that's probably the only F-word they didn't know. But others responded very differently, marveling that somebody like me—a really bad apple—could so dramatically change. I am not the first partier to get religion, and they knew what it was like for some partier to sober up and find Jesus and then in a round of “righteous” anger, blast all his sinner friends for being sinners. What was different is that this partier shunned the heavy-handed clarion for how they should change, and instead, meekly asked for forgiveness for how I wronged them. No pats on my back here – God is the hero of my change – not me, my boot straps or my boots.
But make no mistake, anger played a big role in why I sought forgiveness and reconciliation with friends still ensnared in chemical addiction. Just like righteous anger stirs a soul when he sees malnourished children and resolves “Something’s gotta be done about that!” my soul grieved over how my friends were wasting their health, their youth and their life in a losing battle to addiction. The channeling of that good anger is the issue, not whether anger should play a role or not.
Today, I’m better at managing my anger in healthy ways, but I’m not “arrived.” When I wound my coworkers or family members them with sarcasm or anger because I'm out of self-control, I'm not letting the Lord govern me. God teaches me to humbly go back to whom I’ve offended and ask, “Will you forgive me? I wounded you. I stole from you, denied you the inherent value that God has attributed to you. Will you forgive me?”
When we repent from wrong anger, God uses that to mend and strengthen relationships. And God is saying to us, this morning, through this living, active text, that if we have been wounded by anger or if we are engaged in the slavery of anger, let's name it and let’s claim it. Let's repent of it. And let's reconcile.
By English: Cpl Erik Villagran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons