Matthew 5: 23-24
When Christians talk about forgiveness, the focus is typically on forgiving others. But just as likely, we are the ones who have done wrong and should seek forgiveness from others and from God.
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5: 23-24 that our disconnection from others can lead to disconnection from God.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
But in our 7-day practical faith journey, how do we not only admit that we were wrong (a huge step in itself), but fully reconcile with another person?
First, let me say that forgiveness takes one person, and reconciliation takes two. A person can forgive another in their heart, but reconciliation takes two people, both willing to engage in the process.
In his book, "Running While Black: Reflections on the Race of My Life," Rick Hightower describes a five-step forgiveness model outlined by Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish philosopher and Rabbinic scholar.
Confession - name and own the harm.
Change - start to change and transform.
Accepting the consequences - pay restitution and accept consequences.
Apology - ask for forgiveness.
Choice - choose differently when the same situation comes again.
Hightower says the mistake we make is "trying to make this go away as quickly as possible." We get things out of order. For example, we may jump all the way to step 4 without going through other steps. As a result, Hightower warns that we can "dump the need to fix this on the person that was harmed."
In my mind, I'm mapping this model to a situation I blogged about nearly a year ago, when my careless words harmed someone. I did steps 1 and 2, including promising the person how I would do things differently in the future. Step 3 has been largely up to them, and I'm still suffering the consequences, although the Step 4 apology was both offered and accepted graciously. Step 5? Well, I can foresee being in a similar situation in a few weeks, and I've already decided how I will speak and act differently to make sure no one is harmed.
No doubt, seeking forgiveness is hard. We can spend a lot of time and energy convincing ourselves that we weren't wrong and blaming the other person, or a bystander, or the situation. At the end of the day, we must consider and even feel what the other person is experiencing. Then we can start the process of seeking forgiveness.
In doing so, we can not only repair our relationship with the person, but our relationship with God, who loves us both. We prefer to stay at the altar, but Jesus tells us we have to make another trip first.
I promise that your life will be enriched by listening to September's two-part podcast of the Top 11 Themes of Jesus, #7 - Miracles. In addition to digging into scripture and gleaning new insights from what Jesus said about his miracles, I have two fascinating interviews with Ammie Bouwman of For His Glory Ministry. Ammie experienced a miracle herself. She articulates the results in a way that will inspire your faith. Please go to CecilTaylorMinistries.com/free-content to connect to my podcast sites, or go directly to them. On Apple, Spotify, and Podbean, search for "Cecil Taylor Monthly Podcasts." On YouTube, search for the Cecil Taylor Ministries channel.