This weekend I rose to the challenge. Not a challenge from my husband to do something around the house, not a challenge from a friend to conquer some long-time feat but a challenge from the Lord to carry out His word to reconcile a relationship. My friend and I weren’t estranged but there was a conflict, an issue that she had with my way of parenting, and though she never came to me directly I knew she had an issue. Her issue seeped out in conversations, and I wanted to shout “Say what you really want to say, why don’t you!?” But that would have been immature, attacking, and asking for a bigger problem that didn’t have to be. It would have also been easy for me to say, “She’s the one with a problem with me; she should come to me” and just wait for that to happen. But sometimes this won’t happen, even though it should.
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1Thessalonians 5:14—NIV). Though the first command says to “warn those who are idle,” my friend, who thought my husband and I don’t provide my eldest with enough structure to combat his lack of diligence, wasn’t going to warn me of our idleness because “I didn’t want to offend you. Parenting is a touchy subject.” Because I know my friend doesn’t like confrontation, I knew I had to confront her. Even though she abdicated her responsibility, I, too, had a responsibility to fulfill.
“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” (Matthew 5:23-24—ESV).
The offering referred to here is the burnt offering, the one regulated in the Old Testament to be offered to atone for the sin of the one bringing the offering. So for the New Testament believer, this verse is saying that God will not receive you to forgive you if you know someone has something against you and you haven’t sought reconciliation with that person. So though my friend should have come to me, I was still obligated to go to her. Going to her was good for my emotional and spiritual health, and confronting those who should, but don’t, confront you is good for your emotional and spiritual health too.
Remember, we don’t just get to abort people or think they don’t deserve our love. God’s love demands that we confront them for our sake and theirs. When we confront them, we position ourselves for God to forgive us and we allow them to follow God’s command to confront (also see Matthew 18:15-35). Reconciliation with man is the way to proper fellowship with God.
Take a Risk Challenge: With grace confront someone that you know has a problem with you but has avoided confronting you. The results of reconciliation and fellowship with God come from confrontation, truly a radical act of love.