Habits: Reconciliation

Today, we celebrate mothers!

Moms are the best at establishing good habits and keeping us from bad ones.

To this very day, I have my own mother to thank for driving into my life good habits like remembering to wash my hands after I use the restroom and for driving out bad habits from my life.  If it wasn’t for her, I’d be picking my nose far more often than I do right now.

Today, we express our gratitude toward mothers as we continue our message series entitled, “Habits.” 

Through this message series, we’re learning about how to do small things consistently, which ultimately leads to a life of integrity.

Small habits lead to big change!

Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them,

    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Godly integrity does not make life fair.  It does, however, guide us onto God’s path for our lives.

Last week, we learned about a difficult season in David’s life before he became king where his integrity was put to the test.  Throughout his struggles, he was found often asking the question, “What have I done wrong?”

In several instances, David really did nothing wrong.  However, there was a time when David lacked integrity and he had done some very nasty things.

In any case, God forgave David when he eventually broke down in his loneliness and chose to seek after God.  God quickly put him back in the right path for his life and restored all that was lost.

Godly integrity does not make life fair.  It does, however, guide us onto God’s path for our lives.

As a result, last week, we were reminded to make it a habit to seek God.  We were challenged to stay in continuous communication with God in the little as well as the big things; sharing with Him what’s on our minds and listening to what is on His.  Throughout our hectic days and the challenges that life throws our way, it’s good to have such a best friend to be right there with us and for us.

As mothers, you may have also find yourself asking that question of David often, “What have I done wrong?”

Maybe you’ve done something absolutely horrific like brush your daughter’s hair.

Maybe you’ve been an absolute monster and said “No.” to letting your son go to that party.

Maybe you reveled in the torture of waking up your teenager in time to catch the bus.

Maybe you’ve really hit rock bottom and required your toddler to take a bath.

Tantrums, meltdowns, fits; and all because you loved your child enough to care for them.

What have you done wrong?

An all seriousness, though.  Like David, sometimes you know you made some poor choices, but other times you genuinely have no idea what went wrong or how to make it right.

This morning, we’re learning about making a habit of reconciliation.

Now as a mother, you already have plenty of experience being the family referee and trying hard to be a peacemaker trying to keep everyone getting along and staying on speaking terms.  Whether your children are 3, 33, or, 53, you probably still find yourself in this role from time-to-time.

Perhaps this morning is a difficult day knowing the painful reality that your children are divided among themselves or perhaps they’ve even cut themselves off from you.  If that is you this morning, Jesus is here today (and will be with you always) ready to heal your hurt, forgive all wrongs, and to give you wisdom in reconciling broken relationships.

If you are here together with your kiddos and you are simply overwhelmed by the blessing of a whole and healthy family, we’ll praise God for that and learn how to continue in it.

We look again to that in-between season of David’s life.  He had gone from incredible success and fame to being a nobody surrounded by the least likely of friends who were distressed, in debt, and discontent. 

Perhaps that sounds a bit like a description of your family right now.  If so, that’s OK, that family-like group of individuals became a unified and unstoppable force who achieved victory at every turn.  We’re going to trust that this is God’s destiny for your family as well.

So how do we respond when we are left wondering, “What did I do wrong?”

Not only do we turn to the life of David for insight on this, but we also look to Jesus and the example that Het set.  They both taught us that God’s desired response from us when we are left with that painful question is to seek reconciliation.  To reconcile is to restore harmony or relationship; to settle and resolve differences.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The greatest act of reconciliation was the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  He literally did no wrong, then took on the punishment as if though He did all so that we could be made right with God.  Jesus acted as a mediator paying the high price for our salvation and freely giving it to us. 

That’s what reconciliation is all about.  Reconciliation is all about understanding the problem, sacrificing to right wrongs, and making a way to restore relationship.  This is also how David responded to Saul.

1 Samuel 26:12-25

12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.

13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”

Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”

15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men must die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”

David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’

20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”

So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

So, how do we make a habit of reconciliation?

1. Listen to understand

Reconciliation will never take place in the heat of an argument.  Fighting only deepens wounds, widens divisions, and hardens hearts.  Reconciliation will never take place so long as our goal is to prove ourselves right and others wrong.  Yes, a conversation is necessary for reconciliation to take place, but it needs to be a conversation and not a heated debate.

As the Bible teaches, we need to remain slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to get angry if we are to make reconciliation a habit.  We’re also to have nothing to do with stupid and foolish arguments because they only produce quarrels and we’re not supposed to be quarrelsome.

To reconcile differences, we need to understand all perspectives of these differences no matter how we may feel about them.  We need to objectively listen to all others involved with the motive and intent of understanding them and where they are coming from.  We can do this even if we do not at all agree with them. 

Doesn’t God do this for us as we cry out to Him?  He hears us out and understands us even when we are totally and completely in the wrong.

2. Be willing to right wrongs

.Jesus could have easily remained on His throne in Heaven and continued to hold our sins against us.  He had done everything right and we had done everything wrong.  For reconciliation to take place, we have to be willing to sacrifice to right wrongs.  This is true even if we don’t feel that we did anything wrong and even if we truly did nothing wrong.

We need to follow the example of Jesus and no matter our guilt or innocent, express unconditional love by sometimes becoming wrong in order to make things right.  After all, being right doesn’t necessarily make us right.  Being correct does not necessarily make us innocent.

We need to follow the example of Jesus who lay down His own life taking on the sin of others, being cursed, becoming wrong so that reconciliation can take place.  As the old adage says, sometimes we just need to eat crow for the better good.

3. Leave it in God’s hands

Even though Jesus did everything right and then some, there are still those who reject Him.  Not matter how much our heart may ache and no matter how torn we may be, we can only ever be responsible for our own actions.  We cannot force anyone to do anything in the same way that God does not force us to respond to Him.  True love requires a choice.

All that we can do is to do our best to live at peace with those around us and to leave our arms open to those who may oppose us.  The rest is up to others.  As David experienced, others will let us down.  They will make us promises and then go back on them.  They will say that they are for us, yet rise up against us.  David chose not to lift a hand to harm the life of Saul although he had every reason to and even though all of those around him were telling him that it was God’s will for him to end Saul’s life.  David trusted God.

Relationships can be hard and painful.  Even more so, they can be so fulfilling, encouraging, and uplifting.

We have no choice but to leave our relationships in the hands of God.  In all honesty, though, those are the best hands that we can ever trust in.  No relationship is ever too far gone for God to restore.  Not even death is too far gone for our God!

There is hope!

It is not over yet!

Our God is mighty and able to do all things!

He is our healer, our refuge, and able to redeem all things!

Mothers and fathers, men and women, boys and girls, let’s make reconciliation a habit in our lives.  Let’s be the voice of Jesus to help others to understand one another and to speak life.  Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus and do our part to right wrongs.  Let’s be expressions of the incredible peace and patience of Jesus who waits eagerly and expectantly for relationships to be restored.

Mothers, we love and honor you.  You carry the heavy burden of being the referees, peacemakers, and reconcilers of relationships; binding your families together in unity.  Whether it be your toddlers fighting over a toy or your thirty-some-year-olds fighting over their hurts and insecurities, you are able to be a miracle worker.

Know that you are not alone; Jesus is with you and for you.  He loves you and your children more than the sum of you all combined.  Listen to understand them, do what you can to right wrongs, and trust those relationships in the hands of God and in His perfect timing.  Trust that God is doing a work although you may not yet see the evidence of it.

The victory is yours and you, mighty warrior, will see the power and the faithfulness of your God to reconcile all things!