Forgive Us Our Trespasses, As We Forgive …

Our church suffers from disunity brought about by resentment and unresolved issues that form a cancer in the heart, and split the person or couple from the church body, the body of Christ. The overall attitude of our little church is love, but members fall victims to Satan when someone offends them. This spirit of conflict can hit man or woman.

As believers in our Lord Jesus, how can we sympathize with someone who continues to feel offended by another church member or pastor? When we see unfairness, incompetence, or insensitivity we take sides, and call for justice. We try to be a friend and end up feeding a fire. We end up trying to replace God. I will give some examples without naming any names.

Someone was running a ministry out of the church basement, and did not have a key. The pastor went on vacation and did not leave a key or a way to get in. The person tried to get a key from the pastor before he left, but the pastor was leaving the church, to go to be a minister for another church, and never got back to the person. There was a failure to communicate or come through. The offended person never came to a board meeting, or sent a letter, but silently resented the whole situation so much that they are leaving the church. A person in the church sent a note to the pastor regarding the situation, and it was ignored. I think this type of situation isn’t that uncommon. People are human and susceptible to error, even when filled with the Holy Spirit.

In another situation, the women of the church were off on a retreat, and the Pastor’s wife made a remark to a woman that offended this woman so much that she left the church. All efforts to repair the damage or pray for resolution failed. In this case, both the husband and wife left. James is right when he says that the tongue is like the rudder of a ship, small but it turns everything around. What is said, cannot be unsaid, except though forgiveness and giving it to God.

In the Romans 12:9-12, we read, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”. This chapter’s admonitions require life in the spirit of the living God, but it is part of our job as Christians to seek the righteousness of Jesus, and certainly this description of Love is central to that effort.

It is my understanding of scripture that we are accountable for how we treat other people, but cannot be accountable for how they behave. On the human plane, love is something we give, but cannot expect to get it in return. Every time we are tempted to take offense at someone’s behavior, we should think of what God has put up with in us because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Where we should be judged and sentenced, we are forgiven by God, and we should forgive others who offend us, and sincerely attempt to make it right, even if that attempt is unlikely to work. Leave all unresolved conflict at the feet of God, not in your heart, and let it not poison your relationships with other believers.