All things considered (Revival, the conferences), it seemed to me it would be a good idea to have this somewhere on Sermonindex. There may still be typos in it. It fits on one page, front and back.
RECONCILIATION IS [b]NOT[/b] SOMETHING TO BE DONE IF THE PERSON HAS NOT [b]FIRST[/b] MET GOD AND BEEN CLEANSED. This is a first things first principle: reconciled with God, then reconciled with man.
IT IS [b]NOT[/b] SOMETHING TO DO IF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT GUIDING.
By Ralph Sutera
[i]Matthew 5: 23-24; 6:12; 18:21; Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5, 19.[/i]
[b]1. RECONCILIATION MUST ALWAYS BE A BLESSING NEVER A CURSE OR A BURDEN.[/b] What God commands you to do will always end in a blessing. It should not be attempted until you are certain it will bless. TIMING is important. DON'T RUSH RECKLESSLY. We are to EDIFY each other.
[b]2. RECONCILIATION RESULTS IN LOVE.[/b] It should cause more love for each other than ever before. FULL JOY comes when reconciliation is proper and complete.
[b]3. RECONCILIATION IS A MATTER OF OBEDIENCE.[/b] Don't sin by disobedience and expect God's blessing. Reconciliation evidences to man that a transaction has already been made with God. BE COMMITTED to making reconciliation when needed, in GOD'S TIMING.
[b]4. RECONCILIATION SHOULD WAIT FOR GOD TO PREPARE THE WAY.[/b] He provides the circumstances to be reconciled. In some situations there is NO DOUBT or question about immediate action. In others, GOD needs to take the initiative. Begin by RESTING the case with God. Pray, Lord, I am personally willing to make reconciliation and will ALLOW THEE to take the initiative in preparing the way. When He does, ACT accordingly. It is just as important that the Lord prepares the other party to receive you as it is your being willing to go to them. As you are prayerfully tuned to God, He will make it clear. The reception may not always be to YOUR LIKING, but when you move in God's way, it will be the way HE planned to bring about HIS results in HIS timing.
[b]5. RECONCILIATION PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER.[/b] Often the other party is in need of a bridge over which to cross from his self-centeredness into positive obedience to God. Your example and making the move in his direction may free him to honestly face his own need in a way he has desired but has not been able to fulfill. In some cases merely moving toward him preaches a powerful and convicting message to his soul, though THAT IS NOT your motivation in going.
[b]6. RECONCILIATION IS ALWAYS UNILATERAL, ALWAYS ONE-SIDED.[/b] Never look for the other person to take the blame or even share the blame. Reconciliation is specifically a matter of settling MY wrong. It deals only with MY BLAME, MY WRONGNESS in a given matter and MUST NEVER be related to implicating anyone else in my wrong. It deals with the attitudes of MY own heart that even allowed the situation to remain.
By understanding MY SOLE RESPONSIBILITY to make reconciliation, I can move straight to the issue and avoid the snare of thinking that I must first establish a delicate treaty with the other party. God's work in another life is HIS business, though Satan will tempt me to share God's responsibility. Therefore, leave the other party with God. Do YOUR part. Be assured that if God asks you to do it, He will not only create the circumstances, but HE will also provide the RESOURCES for you to carry it out.
[b]7. RECONCILIATION IS NEVER IF.[/b] It is never predicated by the statement, [b]If[/b] I have offended you, or [b]If[/b] I have hurt you. The Please forgive me [b]IF[/b] I have been an offense type of reconciliation WILL NEVER settle anything or produce the results God desires. If reconciliation deals with MY blame, then it must be that I HAVE offended, hurt, or allowed bitterness to remain. It then should be,[b] Please forgive me. I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.[/b]
[b]8. RECONCILIATION NEVER GUARANTEES OR PRECLUDES A RIGHT RESPONSE.[/b] At the point you ask for forgiveness, you are not responsible or guaranteed a positive, right response. Commit that to God.
OVER . . .
[b]9. RECONCILIATION MUST ALWAYS BE AS BROAD AS THE OFFENSE BUT NEED NEVER BE ANY BROADER THAT THE OFFENSE.[/b] Deal with GOD ALONE about [b]private sins[/b] of the mind and body. These should never be included in reconciliation. When the other party KNOWS NOTHING about it, DEAL ONLY WITH GOD. Never say, I have had some bad thoughts about you, or I RESENTED YOU, or I have had lustful thoughts toward you and I want you to forgive me. Go to the other party ONLY WHEN he clearly knows about the situation. If you have shared these thoughts or feelings with a third party, let that party know you have made this right with God. GO NO FURTHER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Some have created thoughts in the other person's mind that were not there previously and created a further problem, resulting in continued bitterness and resentment. Private lustful thoughts expressed to the other party could generate these same thoughts in their mind and precipitate a sinful immoral relationship. BE VERY CAREFUL.
Though a [b]private sin[/b], some people feel strongly that they need to say something to the person EVEN THOUGH it is not necessary and he knows nothing about it. If you feel compelled to do so, you need not discuss what inner thoughts you had about him, just always be POSITIVE in speaking to him in love. Follow that with TANGIBLE EXPRESSIONS though acts of kindness and further words of appreciation that will build him up and bless his life. Read Matthew 5: 44-48.
[b]Personal sins[/b] affecting you and another person must be dealt with on a PERSONAL level alone. [b]Public sins[/b] affecting a larger group or an entire church need to be made right on whatever level of people it affects. Always be AS BROAD AS THE OFFENSE but not any broader.
[b]10. RECONCILIATION IS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.[/b] Reconciliation brings glory to God ONLY WHEN it exalts what Christ has done rather than MAGNIFYING the situation itself. In the light of everything else discussed, personal testimony can be given. It then is not a matter of hanging out dirty linen in public, but rather an expression of praise to God's glory in deliverance. Others then rejoice by your testimony in that God has performed a MIRACLE rather than in you elaborating on all the details. ONLY WHEN the glory goes to Jesus will people be blessed and the church edified.
[b]IMPORTANT FINAL WORDS[/b]
1. On matters of PERSONAL MORALITY (immorality), BE SURE to consult your minister or another spiritual advisor BEFORE acting in any direction.
2. Never pressure a person to respond. If he is unwilling to forgive, ask him to contact you when he is ready.
3. If the sin occurred BEFORE conversion, deal with whatever the THE HOLY SPIRIT REVEALS and IMPRESSES on you. Act only as HE reveals.
4. Aside from matters of PERSONAL MORALITY (immorality), the general rule is to deal person-to-person. If impossible, telephone. Letters should be a last resort.
5. If you have ANY QUESTIONS about what, when, how, or EVEN IF reconciliation should be made, CONSULT YOUR MINISTER or spiritual advisor. Don't wish when it is TOO LATE THAT YOU HAD GOTTEN THE RIGHT ADVICE. You cannot always recover the damage.
6. For more on this subject, write for the tract, [i]The Road to Confession, Forgiveness, Restitution and Reconciliation[/i], by Ralph Sutera.
Copies available from:
CANADIAN REVIVAL FELLOWSHIP
Box 584, Regina, SK, Canada S4P 3A3
Phone: (306) 533-3685