Churches are noted for always being engaged in building some new facility whether it’s a new fellowship hall, sanctuary, Sunday school rooms, etc. But what I would like to tell you about is yet another building project many are involved in and may not even know it.
Proverbs 18:19 says, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel.”
When someone gets hurt there are generally two responses. Either you go and make things right or retreat behind the walls of offense. Of course the first one, the making things right, is the best response, but what happens when you do the second? Well, construction starts on a wall building project that can take years to construct and many more years to tear down. You see we all have a fight or flight mechanism within and every moment we are deciding which to do. Someone, usually someone we care about, says or does something to offend us and the moment of truth has come. Do I deal with it or run from it?
Let’s think about this wall thing for a moment. If I lived in a house or city and I wanted to protect it from bands of evil marauders building a wall would sound like the smart thing to do wouldn’t it? On the other hand if you build a wall it not only has the ability to keep out the enemy it also has the ability to keep you in. So we’re in a quandary aren’t we? What to do, what to do?
When it comes right down to it life is risky. If we open ourselves up to others there is always the possibility we’ll be hurt, on the other hand, if we don’t we’ll never have the pleasure to know what meaningful relationships can be.
As I thought about this I thought, you know this is the whole point isn’t it? God sent his Son here in order to restore a broken relationship with man. Talk about taking a risk. Jesus opened himself to the most unimaginable pain ever when he offered himself on the cross for us. He openly declared “whosoever will let him come” all the while knowing many would not. Now that’s love! It doesn’t stop there though; because he not only wants us reconciled to him he wants us connected to each other in a meaningful way.
If God’s plan is for us to be reconciled to him and to others the greatest thing the enemy could do is to disrupt that plan. You see his best weapon is to get us offended. If we’re offended by someone,and we build a wall, he’s got us where he wants us. While we feel safe from offense, from within our walled off compound, we’re also cut off from fellowship. This is why the Bible instructs us not to let the sun go down on our anger. You see the building project goes on for as long as we refuse to settle our issues with one another. It goes something like this: we get offended, it turns into unforgiveness then bitterness and finally our heart is hardened.
The solution is easy and yet the most difficult because it means humbling ourselves. In order for our freedom to move about to be restored we must be reconciled to our brother. Whether it means we go to them or they come to us doesn’t matter either way a truce must be called. It is only when the unity of the Spirit takes priority over our own selfish pride that we will come to this. As long as we see ourselves as independent beings needing to even the score we’ll never move as the body of Christ because that takes unconditional love which requires humility and sacrifice for others. Remember forgiveness isn’t without cost. We’re told Jesus emptied himself and took on the form of a slave. Not only the form of a slave, but he was obedient even to the point of death on the cross in order to purchase our freedom. Let us not spend this freedom behind the walls and bars of an offense if you know someone you need to be reconciled to don’t put it off any longer. Go to them today.