I have had a hard couple days. Relational conflict is never fun. But it is inevitable, being that we are all broken sinners. Which means we all – yes, ALL, even “good” Christians, sin against one another. Yet, we act so surprised, forgetting that we are all in the same boat.
Instead we like to pride ourselves in our upstanding behavior. Though sin is much deeper than that. It extends in to every part of our being and infects our thoughts, words and deeds. And though we don’t often see it like this, it is in our self-righteousness.
- Could that be why it is so hard to say the three little words that should be used by all of us all the time?
- Could it be that we think we are better than those other sinners?
- That we would never do something like that?
- That we are above sin?
If this is the case, we are not seeing our need for a Savior. Instead we are living as if our own “goodness” is merit for our righteous standing. Not the righteous robes of Christ who’s perfect life and atoning death is the only way we have been set free from ALL condemnation.
That is what we are told in Romans 8:1:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This is good news! This means ALL of our sin- past, present and future sin that we haven’t even committed and don’t know yet that we will- has been taken to the cross and paid for. This is what it means to experience the free grace of Christ.
But we, in our sinfulness, don’t extend that same grace to others. We want to make others “pay” for their sin against us in a way that even God does not require. We want them to make it up to us. We want them to experience our pain.
But as NYC Redeemer Presbyterian pastor Tim Keller says in his book The Reason for God “forgiveness is absorbing the debt and refusing to make one pay.” That is hard to do! And the reason why those called to forgive need as much grace as those who need forgiveness. So on both ends the three little words needed to be used are:
Please Forgive Me!
You Are Forgiven!
Until we see that it is our sin who nailed Him to a cross; that He paid the price so we wouldn’t have to, we will be stingy with grace. We will see ourselves as righteous on our own standing, not His. And we will hold others to a standard that they cannot ever meet.
But by God’s grace when we see this, our pride will be pushed down and we will be able to say those three little words to one another. And guess what happens? The conflict becomes a means to unite and grow us closer to one another instead of divide and pull us apart.
So as much as I hate conflict and it is not fun, it is inevitable. And how we handle it and the sin that caused it is a greater sign of our spiritual health than the “right” behavior we try so hard to portray.
May God give us all the eyes to see when we need to say, “Please Forgive Me.” and the grace to say, “You Are Forgiven.”
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