Inspirational Thought of the Day:
When we forgive and pursue unity, God receives glory and His beautiful redemptive purposes are enacted through us.
Scripture of the Day:
“That person sings to others, saying: ‘I have sinned and falsified what is right, but I was not punished according to what I deserved. 28 He redeemed my life from going down to the place of corruption, and my life sees the light!’ 29 “Indeed, God does all these things, twice, three times, in his dealings with a person, 30 to turn back his life from the place of corruption, that he may be enlightened with the light of life. 31 Pay attention, Job–listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. 32 If you have any words, reply to me; speak, for I want to justify you.”
Well, this week we sure have been talking about problems and conflict, huh? I actually didn’t plan it that way. As I read my bible reading plan, Scriptures stand out to me that I pray and feel led to write about. It always amazes me, though, how oftentimes what God is instructing us about in His word we will also encounter in our lives or see others experiencing.
I love the book of Job. Job is so real and God is so faithful. As Job’s friends saw him in His suffering, they sought to guide him, but the more mature believers (who some might say had seniority) were askew in their counsel. They had some amazing truths to share, but missed what really mattered: restoration of a brother in his pain. Sometimes we can get so focused on correcting someone that we forget the point of conflict: redemption and healing.
It took the youngest amongst Job and his friends to reveal what the real problem was. In his fatigue from spiritual warfare and physical struggling, Job was accusing God. Job became disillusioned when he looked on his righteous deeds and saw what he considered to be an unjust, cruel response from His God.
Job’s feelings are understandable. If we are all honest, we can lose perspective when life gets hard. We don’t understand why life has to hurt. Perhaps we expected more out of life or just wanted to get to a place where life was comfortable. While it is understandable we would seek comfort or relief from our troubles, ultimately, seeking comfort in a temporary position is futile. This life is not our home, but a testing ground for all of eternity.
When we see people missing the grace of God, perhaps even attacking ourselves or others, it is not love to judge them and cast them aside. No, it is the heart that understands what incredible mercy has been given to us that can extend that same mercy to others.
Elihu recognized God’s incredible kindness and patience in light of our wickedness. He did not take credit for the righteousness God extended and His desire was to extend grace and to justify his friend, Job. Wow. If only this were the motivation in every conflict that arises.
Imagine each party in a conflict longing to justify the other. That does not mean correction is not necessary, but how instruction is presented can make all the difference in pointing a person toward repentance and healing or toward a hardened heart filled with sin.
Our God is a redemptive God, giving us what we do not deserve: complete forgiveness and HIS righteousness. As His ambassadors, we are to do the same: extend mercy and seek to help others to recognize their sin that they might not see. Recognizing that we are just as capable, we are humbled to refrain from judgment. We don’t expose sin for the purpose of condemnation, but rather, sweet redemption and forgiveness. Just like our Abba Father does for us.
The ultimate goal in conflict, though, is God’s glory. Is He glorified when we hold a grudge? When we talk about other people? When we try to prove someone wrong? Perhaps the great irony is missed that is evident when two Christians oppose one another. When two people who received grace – undeserved mercy – cannot extend it to one another, it hurts the heart of God. If we win an argument or get our way yet lose a brother, we have lost.
We who have freely received mercy can freely give. The heart of our brother matters more than our vindication. When we forgive and pursue unity, God receives glory and His beautiful redemptive purposes are enacted through us.
Lord, help us to care for one another deeply, even when we have been wronged. Bring unity throughout Your church, LORD, and help us to spread Your redemptive love throughout the earth.