Some Thoughts On The Ministry Of Reconciliation: Part Four

[Note:  This blog is part of a series.  Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.]

After having given an explanation of the context of reconciliation and commented at some length about some of the issues that the speaker did not cover, at this point the series of messages looks at the person who has offended someone else.  As might be expected, this message has a great deal to do with my own life and in the context of my own complicated relationships with other people.  Again, I cannot speak as to what was felt or thought by the young lady who suggested I listen to this message, but I do know that I have often painfully reflected on the repercussions of my own behavior on others.  As someone who has suffered abuse, it has been a deeply fervent wish on my part not to abuse others in turn.  I have prayed and fasted over my own difficulties with other brethren and over my own native proclivity to cause offense to others.  In this message to those who have caused offense, I find a great deal that is addressed to me, and it is worth exploring this in some detail.

The speaker, for example, spends a great deal of time in this message discussing the situation of David and Bathsheba.  He comments, for example, on the fact that Bathsheba was probably young and that the Bible does not condemn Bathsheba for her actions [1].  After summarizing David’s behavior as an abuser, he then discusses what happens when God sent Nathan to the unrepentant David to provoke him to repentance.  Obviously, this element of the story has been of interest to me as it is the most conspicuous example of my namesake’s behavior in the Bible.  The speaker then imagines a conversation between David and Nathan as to how the conversation could have gone.  It is extremely difficult, listening to this part of the message, to think that I was not at least in the mind of the person a little bit in hearing it.  The speaker deals very forthrightly with how we respond to the knowledge that we have done wrong, and the story of David is a deeply worthwhile one for us to examine.  We are all people of great blunders and mistakes, sins and errors, and how we respond to being made aware of these things.

After this section the speaker goes to a passage I have often thought [2] of in my relationships with others, concerning leaving our gift at the altar.  Often I have wondered if my own gifts were unwelcome because of my difficulties in getting along with others.  Then the speaker asks a series of question to someone who has caused offense to someone else:  Did I sin against this person?  Did I hurt them through ignorance by ignoring their feelings?  Have I hurt this person somehow through miscommunication?  How did I contribute to this situation?  How must I take responsibility for my actions?  The author reminds us that some offenses require restitution.  What lessons can God teach us through this situation?  Am I being defensive because I feel threatened?  These are good questions to ask and certainly questions that I think it may be necessary to ask myself in those situations where it has been brought to my attention that I have caused offense to someone else.

There is a great deal in this message that really hits home to me personally, such as the time it takes to heal and to rebuild trust and good feelings, the way we often sin when we respond to the offenses that other commit against us.  Over and over again, this message reminds us of the larger context of reconciliation and how we ought to behave.  As a Christian, our concern ought to be not causing offense, and often our behavior should not be conditioned by what we are obligated to do but rather what we do in order to act with consideration of the feelings of other people.  This is hard to do.  I must admit that I struggle deeply with knowing how others feel, with being honest about my own feelings, and with acting and responding to both my feelings and those of others appropriately.  I suppose there is no better time to practice these matters than the present, no time better available for getting better even if we struggle with these areas normally.  This struggle is probably fairly common, given the fact that our warped human nature as a result of sin tends to add a great deal of complexity and anxiety and difficulty to all of our lives.

This message ends on an interesting note, looking at how we are to deal with pride, even as we cause offense.  The speaker admits his own struggles and failures in this area, something all of us ought to be able to admit if we know ourselves.  Do we fear that others will lose respect for us when we admit that we are wrong or have been wrong in some fashion?  That is a common fear.  Do we resist taking responsibility for our actions because we think that others are inferior to us?  Do we strive to understand the viewpoint of the other person?  Am I willing to take the offended person’s interests as seriously as my own?  I would like to say that these things are true about me, and encourage those who feel as if they have offended me or that I have offended them to speak to me privately about it, if they wish.  I do not wish, insofar as it is possible, to be a burden or a stumbling block for anyone, or an additional difficulty in their own walk with God.  Life is a difficult enough struggle as it is without our adding to the burden that others face through our own wickedness and blundering.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to Some Thoughts On The Ministry Of Reconciliation: Part Four

  1. Pingback: Some Thoughts On The Ministry Of Reconciliation: Part Five | Edge Induced Cohesion

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