Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.
–Ephesians 5:15

Do you remember the old game show “Queen for a Day”? In every episode a housewife would be selected, given a crown and a scepter, and treated royally for the next 30 minutes. Today we are going to play a version of “Queen for a Day.” However, we will call it “Pastor for a Day.” Your pastor has fallen ill, and you have been asked to sit in his chair for a day. Instead of being given a crown and scepter, you have been given a Bible and two counseling appointments. How would you respond to each of these appointments?

First, you are to meet with Frank, the chairman of your deacons. He says, “Pastor, you asked me to serve on the long-range building committee with my fellow deacon Bill. But a few years ago Bill cheated my son out of $25,000. And while I have forgiven Bill, he never said he was sorry. I just can’t serve on a committee with Bill when he hasn’t shown any remorse for what he has done.” How would you counsel Frank? Would you tell him that he really hasn’t forgiven Bill if he won’t serve on a committee with him? Is Frank harboring bitterness in his life because he refuses to work alongside a fellow church member?

Your second appointment is with a godly church member named Sally. She and John have been married for 10 years. The physical abuse began when they were dating and has continued through their marriage, increasing in severity. Recently Sally persuaded John to go to a marriage seminar at the church. At the end of the seminar the speaker gave people a chance to trust in Christ as their Savior. To Sally’s surprise John raised his hand, indicating that he had become a Christian. That night when they got home John expressed sorrow for what he had done and asked for Sally’s forgiveness. That lasted a couple of days. Then the physical abuse began again, and now it is worse than ever. Sally asks you what she should do. She wants to move out of the home. She is fearful for her safety, but some of her friends have said, “If you have truly forgiven your husband, then you won’t move out. You will stay in that relationship and trust your well-being to God to allow Him to protect you.” What would be your counsel to Sally? Should she stay in the home and trust her protection to God? Or should she move out? If she has really forgiven her husband, must she be willing to stay in that abusive relationship?

During the last few weeks we have been talking about forgiveness. And we have been looking at some misunderstandings about forgiveness that keep many people as prisoners of bitterness. This week we will discover that while we can and should unconditionally forgive people, we cannot unconditionally be reconciled with people. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness depends on me. Reconciliation depends on me and my offender.
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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving People You Never Want to Eat Lunch with Again” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Week 34, Day 2
The Case for Reconciliation

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
–Psalm 133:1

Just because reconciliation is not unconditional does not mean that it is unimportant. God wants reconciliation in marriages, in friendships, and in churches. That is always His ultimate desire.

Over and over again Scripture talks about the importance of reconciliation. In Psalm 133:1 the psalmist said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” And 2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “God … reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” In Ephesians 4:3 Paul said, “[Be] diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And in Philippians 2:2 he said, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Make no mistake about it: God wants you to be reconciled to the person who has wronged you.

Reconciliation is important for two reasons. First, reconciliation testifies of God’s power. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Christians’ love for one another and forgiveness of one another serve as a powerful witness to the world of the reality of the Christian faith. And the corollary of that truth is this: nothing is a poorer witness to the world than the inability of Christians to get along with one another. That’s why God desires reconciliation.

Second, reconciliation empowers us to resist the enemy. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul said, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The greatest struggle you are facing right now is not with that difficult boss you have to deal with. It’s not with that mate who doesn’t care about you like he or she should. Your greatest conflict is not with that business partner who cheated you out of money. Paul said your greatest struggle is with the spiritual forces of darkness. Satan loves to divide Christians, then isolate Christians, and then attack Christians. I have seen that happen over and over again. That is why reconciliation is so important. There is strength in numbers.

But although God’s will is reconciliation, reconciliation is not always possible with a person who has wronged us. In Romans 12:18 Paul said, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Forgiveness depends on you, but reconciliation doesn’t always depend on you. A lot of people misunderstand this. They don’t realize that in a relationship that has been broken, it is the offended party who gets to decide whether a relationship is reconciled. Forgiveness is unconditional, but reconciliation is conditional.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving People You Never Want to Eat Lunch with Again” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.