You know, God in His great and mighty wisdom gives us a few very plainly worded and choice pieces of advice on how to stay out of trouble, be humble and keep it "zipped" when dealing with all sorts of problems.
It is so easy for us to say what is on our minds, whether it be gossip or confrontation with another. So easy yet can be so evil. We can offend with a word - we can ruin a reputation with a sentence.
When Paul wrote to the Romans he pretty much summed up the very heart of God when he said "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." (Romans 14:19)
We should make it our priority to build others up - not to tear them down - to encourage others not to put them down and to build confidence in others not make ourselves look good at their expense.
Now on saying that, the very last thing I want to do is to 'preach' at anyone concerning this because to put it plainly, I am the very WORST at taking this on board myself.
Forgiveness is probably one of the biggest hurdles we will ever face in this regard. Confrontation, anger, taking/giving offence and unforgiveness - all hard stuff to cope with and all very much out of line with how God wants us to live our lives.
Makes me wonder how many of us would want God to forgive us in the same way that we forgive others - not many I would imagine, and yet this is how God will forgive us.
Luke 6:37 states "Forgive and you will be forgiven" and again Jesus says "And forgive us our debts in the same way as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).
Couldn't get any plainer! - God will only forgive us if we are truly from our heart have forgiven others. The way we forgive is the way we will be forgiven.
We can live our lives in Christian fellowship, we can be baptised and say and mean the 'sinner's prayer', yet if in our hearts we haven't or can't forgive then Heaven will not be opened to us. God will say "depart from me - I never knew you" and why? Because we have refused to forgive and therefore cannot be forgiven. Strong words but true.
Forgiveness is usually denied to other people who have hurt us or who have been hurt by us but it is important to note that forgiveness can be withheld from us by ourselves. Yes, we can get to the stage where we cannot forgive ourselves. God has forgiven us; we can then forgive ourselves. Pretty Schmick eh?
All of us need to deal with the unforgiving spirit living in us now while we are here - it will be too late to deal with it once we are facing eternity.
Pride is another little sneak that can stop us from offering or asking forgiveness. Especially when the person we are so-called asking forgiveness of is someone who has hurt us yet they see it in reverse! They see it as us hurting them, yet the reality is that it is us who have been wounded by them.
God knows our hearts, He knows and understands our pride but also knows just how much Jesus paid for our salvation. On the cross Jesus cried out to God to forgive his mockers and not to hold it against them and guess what? God expects us to try to reconcile with everyone, even those who we feel are unjustly 'blaming' us for the problem in the first place.
I recall a person whom I feel unjustly blamed me for a lot of things that happened in our past - this person lashed out at me - I was told I was rude, selfish, egotistic, narrow-minded, mean and more. My first reaction was to try and defend myself, pointing out that it was him not me that caused the problems in the first place - I was the victim not him!
Would that have helped? Not at all - when we 'defend' ourselves it only makes the unforgiving spirit even more unforgiving - offence overwhelms both sides - we need to put a plug in it and try to listen to their arguments coolly and as calmly as possible. Reconciliation must take top priority.
We may have done nothing wrong but when it boils down and we get to the nitty gritty it is far more important for us to do as God says and 'humble' ourselves and reconcile if possible than to go out of our way and make things even worse just to prove ourselves correct.
So where does that leave us? Firstly I feel we need to 'button up'. Proverbs 12:23 states
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity" - and believe me calamity will strike - so we need to keep our tongues well under control.
Finally we need to be motivated by the love of God - His type of love never fails us. In Romans 12:18 Paul writes "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone". We need to do everything we can to be reconciled with each other and if that means humbling ourselves and forgetting our pride, so be it.
God go with you as you forgive and become a "Peacemaker" in the name of Jesus.