Why Does My Sin Matter?

If you have children, you know that one of the main concerns in child rearing is discipline. Very early on, you have to decide what type of parent you want to be. Will you be, what they call in psychology, an authoritarian parent-one who emphasizes rules, order, and obedience over emotional connection? This type of parent tends to hold the view that children are “to be seen and not heard” and children brought up in this environment more than likely view their parents as nothing more than drill sergeants at basic training.

Or perhaps you will be what is referred to as a permissive parent-one who gives little guidance and much freedom. This type of parent does a lot of listening to the wishes of the child, but not a lot of saying “no”. Plainly put, permissive parents are big pushovers.

The last type of parent is the authoritative parent. Don’t mistake this with the authoritarian parent. An authoritative parent maintains a good balance between freedom and boundaries. This type of parent desires to know their child intimately and on a deep, emotional level, all the while setting appropriate limits to provide safety and security. Authoritative parents allow for some freedom, but clearly communicate expectations and spell out consequences for a child’s failure to meet them.

What type of parent do you think God is? Is he authoritarian, permissive, or authoritative? I believe that if we have read the Bible even a little, we would find the answer to be quite clear. God is authoritative in nature. He has two faces. He is love, yet He is justice.

Let’s go back to some basics of our faith. The very nature of God is Holy (“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” Isaiah 6:3). When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He told him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. Because of God’s holiness, He cannot or will not approve of evil, and therefore, our sin demands a penalty. There is not a single work that we could perform that would make us acceptable before God and that could satisfy His just wrath against our sin.

Although God demands justice, or in other words, death for our sin, His nature is also loving and merciful. He provided a Savior who took the punishment for our sins and who paid the penalty for us. The perfect life of Jesus Christ satisfied the holiness of God, while the death of Jesus satisfied the demands of His justice. So the glorious news is that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” Romans 8:1,2.

If we have truly confessed that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, our sins no longer condemn us to a life of eternal punishment. The question that remains, however, is if Christ saved us from a “second death” or eternity in hell separated from Him, why does our sin really matter?

As the authoritative parent that He is, God has established boundaries and truth for life in His commandments and through the teachings of Jesus. For “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Could we say that God really loved us if He didn’t care what we did or how we thought? If he was a permissive parent and didn’t discipline us, could we really claim to be His child? Would he be expressing His desire for our best if He was okay with us choosing to live a life in disobedience to Him? I don’t think so!

God desires us to always be mindful of our sin and to continually live in an attitude of repentance. So why does our sin matter?

  1. It can shorten our earthly life. (“The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened” Proverbs 10:27.)
  2. It can harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  3. It can hurt others.
  4. It can bring us out of fellowship with God and our Christian brothers and sisters. (“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ…If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth” 1 John 1:3,6).
  5. It can damage our witness (“For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities” Isaiah 59:12.)

Although as children of God, our sins can no longer condemn us (we have been justified through Christ), the consequences of our sin can last through generations. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit continually helps us to grieve our sin and let us be thankful that God is the type of parent He is. He loves us so much that He desires to root out anything that does not help us in our walk with Him!

Answers: What is God like? (part 3)

After writing about America’s hunger Answers: America is hungry (Part 1) and the truth that God is real and exists, Answers: There is a God (Part 2), I believe we need to understand a few things about the character of God. After all, if He has the final say in all things, then let’s figure out what He’s like and what He requires of us.

The most important thing to know about God, is that He is unchanging. He will always be the same. This does not mean that we will always see Him work and move in our world in the same way. It means that His nature and His character are always the same. His unchangingness is a thread that runs through every other attribute (characteristic) that I will mention in this blog. God does not change.

“I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

Since God does not change that means that everything that follows in this blog describes God yesterday, describes God today, and will describe God tomorrow. He is our “always” in a world with “sometimes, maybes, and ums.”

First, God is righteous. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy,” (Psalm 119:137-138).

What does it mean? Righteous means to be just, honorable, and holy. Or as Blue Letter Bible commentary states, “This means that God’s character or nature always leads Him to do that which is right. Righteousness is holiness in action.” https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1285.cfm

Why does it matter? Since God is righteous, He only does what is right. He never does what is wrong or sinful. And since He doesn’t change, He will never do what is wrong or sinful. God will always act perfectly.

Second, God is just. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).

What does it mean? To be just means that God is fair, and “…that He can and will judge between right and wrong and He will administer justice in accordance with His standards.” ttps://www.allaboutgod.com/god-is-just.htm And let’s remember that important thread we discussed earlier…God doesn’t change. That means that God will always administer justice according to what He has declared righteous and holy.

Why does it matter? Because God is righteous, he has to be just. If everything God does and requires is pure and holy, then he has to judge those things which are not pure and holy. If he failed to be just, He would also fail to be righteous. The Bible calls these unholy and impure things sin. And everyone of us has sinned. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This means that everyone of us deserves His judgement. (More on God’s judgement in the next post).

Third, God is merciful. “Remember, O LORD your great mercy and love, for they are from of old” (Psalm 25:6).

What does it mean? For God to be merciful means that He concerns Himself with our lives and shows us compassion. God’s mercy always leads to action.

Why does it matter? Without God’s mercy we would all face eternal death. “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23a). God’s righteousness declares that only that which is pure and holy be given entrance into eternal life. God’s justice states that those things which are impure and unholy be judged to eternal hell. God’s mercy offers us hope in this hopeless situation.

That hope all hinges on one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice,” (Romans 3:23-25a).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).

At the cross of Jesus, we see God’s righteousness, justice and mercy all mingled together. Jesus was perfect, holy, pure…righteous. He took upon Himself the justice of God. He died on the cross for the “wages of our sins.” Because of God’s mercy, He’s given us the opportunity to put our faith in Jesus’s death and resurrection, and be spared from His judgement for our sins. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grave you have been saved,” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Without Jesus there is no hope of experiencing God’s for eternity. But with Jesus, no mercy will be withheld. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end,” (Lamentations 3:22).

There are so many other attributes of God that bring peace and comfort. If you want to know more I suggest the book, “Knowing God,” by J.I. Packer.

God doesn’t change. Spend some time getting to know Him and you will find the answers you seek.

Grace for The Journey

Because of the Cross–Hope

Because of the Cross–Freed From Sin

Answers: There is a God (Part 2)

In the last post I talked about America’s hunger. Answers (Part 1) Our nation doesn’t recognize the anger, violence, and division as hunger, but that’s what it really is, a demanding ache of the soul. And the reason for the hunger is because God is missing from everything. So let’s start with the basic of the basics.

There is a God and it’s not us.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

What does this mean? It means that God was before time. He has always existed and will always exist. He is eternal.

It means God exists without help from anyone or anything else. He is self-sustaining. He does not need. He is never lacking.

It means that God created all that there is. He spoke, “Let there be light,” and light burst forth into the darkness. He spoke, “let there be animals in the waters” and the shrimp, killer whale, and jelly fish were designed.

He spoke, “let the land have animals,” and the giraffe, kangaroo, and lizard popped into existence.

He spoke, “let us make man in our image,” and Adam was crafted from the dust of the ground and Eve was fashioned from Adam’s rib. God spoke and creation happened.

Why does this matter? Since there exists a God who is boundless, self-sustaining, and creator, He gets to call the shots. He is above all things. He has the last say.

He decides what is truth. Truth is not relative. It’s not subjective, and it’s not personal for each person. Truth is what God determines it to be.

He decides what is righteous and He decides what is unrighteous.

He decides what is salvation. And He has decided. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).

For us, as individuals and a nation, to have peace, we must humbly bow our heads and bend our knees before God Almighty, the Beginning and Ending of all things. If we continue to elevate our goals, our agendas, our thoughts of how things should be, in other words, ourselves, we will continue to hunger. We will continue to thirst. We will continue to be angry because the world and all it’s stuff will never satisfy and it will never quench.

There is a God and it’s not us. Let our hungering be satiated and our thirsting be quenched with this truth.

You are…salt (part 1)

How Satan Dulls the Christian’s Joy… Guilt

Lessons from a Cranky, Old Farm House—Neat Little Box or Memories?

Answers: America is hungry (Part 1)

As I leaned back in my chair after skimming my Facebook page, spotted with events from friends’ lives, political ads, and conflicting news articles, I realized something:  America is hungry.

If you’ve ever had braces or been around someone who recently got braces then you know that what I’m about to describe is a real issue.  A few hours after getting braces your mouth begins to ache.  A few hours after the ache, the stomach begins to growl.  For a few fun meals you enjoy the pudding, the applesauce, the ice cream, and the creamy peanut butter. 

But after a couple days of constant ache in your mouth and an inadequate diet, the stomach begins to demand better food. In our house we call this stage, hangry (hungry + angry).

You’re hungry, but your teeth hurt, so you can’t eat satisfying food, so you stay hungry, and because you are so hungry, you become angry.  Grrrrr. “I just want to be able to eat food.” Yep, I said those words back in high school.

This is where America is today.  People are angry because they are hungry. And they are hungry because we have taken God out of everything and replaced his satisfying truth with the puddings and applesauces of empty lies. These things taste good, but they don’t feed our intense hunger.  Psalm 63:1 says, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

This land, this world is dry and weary.  It is not able to satisfy our hungry or quench our thirst.

I John 2:15-17 states it differently.  “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Money–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

Immorality–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

Video games–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

Power–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

Fame–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

Possessions–not going to satisfy. Will leave the pursuer hungry for more.

The world and its desires will pass away. They are not lasting.  They will only leave an aching void in our souls which leaves us hungering for more and when we can’t find it, we will become angry.

God’s truth is the only thing that can stop the hangry epidemic of our nation.

Answers (Part 2)

The Battle for Dependence Part 1

Meet the man before The Man

Harder before better, what gives?

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Let’s just be honest. The year 2020 has been a crazy ride and we still have over four months to go! How are you holding up? How would you describe how you are feeling at the moment? I know right now I would say that fear, anxiety, frustration, concern, sadness, anger, and so many other feelings and emotions that are bubbling inside me over the pandemic, the state of our country, the growing persecution of the church, the strains of marriage and motherhood, and just life in general, have all led to me feeling just plain overwhelmed. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I know that I must return my focus to what is real, true, and right and that is God’s Word. I wanted to share something that stuck out to me as I was reading Acts the other day. The following verses reference the growing church after Christ ascended into heaven after his Resurrection:

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47.

After reading this, I kept going back to the phrase, “simplicity of heart.” What does this mean? I believe that it refers to the believers’ focus. The new followers of Jesus had a single focus. That was on Christ and his teachings and therefore, the Bible says they were “glad”. I truly believe God wants us to live a simple life. Obviously, as in this pandemic for example, we are to be informed of things, but not overwhelmed by what we read and hear because we know God is in control.

It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha. When Martha became upset that Mary was sitting and listening to the words of Jesus, while she was up serving and attending to her guests, Jesus told Martha she was concerned about “many things”. In other words, her focus was “off”. Martha was overwhelmed because there was so much to “do”. However, her sister, Mary, chose what was most important at the moment, Jesus and his words, and that became her sole focus. She wanted/needed to be with Jesus and listen to what He had to tell her.

Let’s try to live simply by focusing on Christ. How can we do that? For me, it probably means being a better student of God’s Word and limiting my social media time. For you, it might be fitting in time for a walk so you can have time to pray to God with no distractions or opening up your Bible before reading the news’ headlines. We remain informed, but not overwhelmed, and we allow the voice of God to speak before the media, our Facebook friends, and society in general. He has a lot to tell us that won’t leave us feeling overwhelmed, but unburdened and free!

I am reminded of the comforting lyrics of the famous hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” I hope you will remember during this time to always to focus on Jesus. Nothing is too overwhelming for Him.

“Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace…”

The Joy of Being Mom

Hey Moms, I’m SO excited to share with you a project that God and I have been working on for about fifteen years. (Praise Him! It is finally done). It is a Bible study titled, “The Joy of Being Mom.”

The downloadable study is found on the new “Bible Study” tab on my blog’s homepage. Here is the direct link https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/athirstyheartforgod.wordpress.com/510

Come check it out! God wants to bring you joy as a mom and then have that joy flood into the lives of your children.

Batteries Included

Did you ever open a Christmas or Birthday present only to read on the box, “Batteries not included”? The gift was so cool that you wanted to play with it right then and there, but you had to wait until your parents bought batteries at the store? And who knows when they would remember to do that! What a disappointment! Without batteries to give the toy its power, it was just a piece of useless plastic taking up space in your toy box or on your shelf. What a bummer!

Did you know that when Jesus ascended into heaven and called his disciples to continue carrying out his work, he did not leave them without any “batteries”? In fact, Jesus made it very clear that they would be given a supernatural power to fulfill their calling to spread the Gospel. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8.

This very power, the Holy Spirit, was not only given to the disciples to carry out the Great Commission, but even today, is given to all those who put their trust in Christ. So as believers we can be confident that God has not left us to complete his will and navigate the peaks and valleys of this earthly life on our own. As John 14:17 states, the Spirit actually “dwells” with us and is in us. I don’t think we could be more closely connected to any source of power than this! What an intimate relationship!

-Unsure of how you are going to continue living after a tragedy rocks your world? The Holy Spirit will give you the power to keep pressing on. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13.

-Unsure of how you are going to witness to your lost friend? The Holy Spirit will give you the power to proclaim the gospel. “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” John 15:26.

-Unsure of how you will remember Scripture when witnessing to an unbeliever? The Holy Spirit will give you the power of recall. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you” John 14:26.

-Unsure of how you will show Christ’s love to someone who has persecuted you? The Holy Spirit will give you the power to remain calm and to speak God’s truth in love. “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given to you in that hour, speak that, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” Mark 13:11.

-Unsure of how you can break the stronghold a particular sin has on your life? The Holy Spirit will give you the power to be obedient to the will of God and to develop self-control. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish” Galatians 5:16,17.

Isn’t it exciting that when we make the decision to trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we do not have to wait to receive his power? We can access the power of the Holy Spirit as soon as we say yes to Jesus! This time, batteries are included!

Thoughts from Exodus

Usually I write to share a point or a explain a truth from God’s Word, but today I just wanted to share some thoughts I had as I read through the last couple chapters of the book of Exodus.

Exodus 35:22-29 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or find linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun–blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for al the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

1. That’s a lot of different kinds of things. When the Israelites left Egypt, truly they plundered them, (Ex. 15:36).

2. Each of those items was needed and used. What I can give to God’s work, is needed and used, even if it something as small as olive oil.

3. They gave willingly. Do I give willingly?

Exodus 35:30-35 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts–to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.

1. God values art that glorifies Him.

2. The first mention of a person being filled with the Holy Spirit was to honor God with his artwork.

3. Heavenly Father raise up more Godly artists who will display your truths for others to see or hear.

Exodus 36:2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

1. Obeying God is work. Am I willing to do the work?

Exodus 39:1, 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31, 32 …as the LORD commanded Moses.

1. Do I do as the LORD commands in every situation to the very detail He gives, or am I looking to do what I want and hope God is on board with it?

Exodus 40:34-38 Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out–until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.

1. Does the thought of God’s presence bring fear or joy?

2. God led them. They didn’t need to know what was around every corner; they just needed to follow. I just need to follow. It is God’s job to take care of me. I am God’s responsibility.

3. God never left them. He is faithful. He is faithful. He is faithful.

He “Gets” It

Often in the midst of a relationship struggle, it is easy to feel very alone and isolated-to feel like no one understands what we’re going through-like no one really “gets us”.  How amazing it is to know, however, that our Savior does.  In fact, He lived it and experienced it himself.  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” Hebrews 4:15.

-Feeling rejected? So did Jesus. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” John 6:66.

-Feeling misunderstood? So did Jesus. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you have life” John 5:39-40.

-Feeling weary? So did Jesus. “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry” Luke 4:1-2.

-Feeling abandoned? So did Jesus. One of Jesus’s closest friends and followers, Peter, denied even knowing Jesus before his crucifixion. He was ashamed to be associated with Jesus! He couldn’t even say his name! “And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear saying, ‘I do not know the Man!'” Matthew 26:73-74.

-Feeling betrayed? So did Jesus. “When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.'” Matthew 26:20.

-Feeling unimportant/like no one cares? So did Jesus.  Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, Jesus was in agony and sorrow and his friends could not even stay awake to stand guard and offer him their physical and emotional support. “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?'” Matthew 26:40.

-Feeling utterly alone? So did Jesus. “Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” Mark 15:33-34.

So you see, we can rely on Christ to understand the pain that comes with relationships because he was fully human.  And during his short time on Earth, he experienced more betrayal, ridicule, and contempt than we will ever feel in our entire lifetime.  Even though he was once surrounded by crowds of people, at the end of his earthly life, he died utterly alone.  Even his Heavenly Father withdrew His presence from him for a time.

Knowing this, will you trust Jesus to walk before you?  Not beside you, but ahead of you?  He has already tested the waters and he can handle the challenge.  Trust him not only because he experienced the pain of rejection, but because he arrived on the other side a victor. Your feelings are real, but they will betray you just like people can and will.  But Christ will never abandon you. He is with you, he is for you, and he loves you. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8.


He Never Stops Working

Are you in a relationship, whether it be with a spouse, a friend, or a family member, that seems irrevocably broken? You have tried everything you can to make things right, but to no avail? You have extended an olive branch, spoken “the truth in love” and prayed to God to heal the relationship, but have seen little to no results? Perhaps your efforts have been met with contempt, or even indifference. What’s going on here? Isn’t God supposed to be in the business of restoration? In fact, it says in God’s Word that we are to be “peacemakers” and “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceable with all men” Romans 12:18. So why hasn’t God blessed our efforts to do this?

Let’s take a closer look at the verse. The phrases “If it is possible” and “as much as depends on you” stands out to me. In my previous post, “Eternal Acceptance”, I discussed the fact that we have zero control over what others think about us, how they perceive our actions and attitudes, and how they respond to us. God understands this, so “if it is possible” is a sort of disclaimer. Sometimes, it is not possible to live in peace with someone when the person has a hardened heart towards you, he or she refuses to forgive you, or he or she is not responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit of their sin against you.

So what are we to do when we find ourselves at an impasse with this difficult person? We are to wait. Wait? Really? Doesn’t God want me to do something? In a society that values action and busyness, “taking control” and continual progress, waiting seems counterproductive and a waste of valuable time. However, as believers in Christ, we aren’t waiting for something, we are waiting on someone. We are not just waiting for time to pass. We are waiting for the God of the Universe to work and we can trust that He knows what he is doing. I do not believe in the old adage “Time heals all wounds”. I do believe, however, that it is what happens during that time that can heal wounds and in the passage of time, God can change hearts.

Jacob and Esau had an extremely dysfunctional and toxic relationship-and they were twins! God had work to do in the hearts of both men. Jacob was a liar and a deceiver. He tricked his father, Isaac, and brother, Esau, into receiving Isaac’s blessing and Esau’s birthright. He did not trust God to fulfill the divine purposes for his life and decided to take matters into his own hands. Esau was filled with bitterness and rage. His anger towards Jacob was so extreme that he purposed in his heart to kill him. “So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” Genesis 27:41.

Decades later, everything had changed. After many heartaches, trials, and tribulations in his life, Jacob desired for reconciliation with Esau. He humbled himself by offering him gifts of animals and servants and upon their meeting, bowed before him and gave him honor. To Jacob’s surprise, Esau was happy to see him. He ran to meet him, kissed him, and they both wept openly. Jacob immediately saw that Esau had changed and that God had softened Esau’s heart towards him. It was so apparent, that Jacob could see it on his face. “…I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me” Genesis 33:10.

Let’s look at the story of Joseph. Another tale of a broken family! Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery. “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him” Genesis 37:4. What they did not realize until later was that God had intended Joseph to be a great leader in Egypt and that someday they would need his help in the most desperate way. Over fifteen years had passed when Joseph’s brothers, not knowing it was Joseph, came to him because they were hungry as a great famine had plagued their land. They sought help from the man they had treated as worthless. While he had once been cast aside by his own flesh and blood, he was now used being used by God to save their very lives! I believe that in the passage of time, God had pricked the hearts and consciences of these men. They felt guilty for the way they had treated their brother for they discussed this amongst themselves while in Joseph’s court. “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us” Genesis 42:21. And later it says in Scripture, “Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.’” Genesis 50:18.

So we can see in these examples that God truly can change hearts, but 21 and 15 years are long periods of time! Isn’t there anything we can do in the meantime while we are waiting for God to work in our relationship? Great news for you busy bodies! We can pray.

1) Pray that God can soften the heart of the person with whom you have conflict and that he or she will desire to work towards reconciliation.

2) Pray that God will reveal anything in your heart that is less than godly and if the Holy Spirit convicts you of anything, that you will seek forgiveness from God and the other person.

3) Pray that God will give you the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) Galatians 5:22, so whenever you come into contact with this person he or she will see Christ’s love in you.

4) Pray for God to bless this person (yes this is a hard one, especially if he or she has really hurt you-but God commands us to love our enemies).

5) Pray that God will give you the strength and wisdom to establish healthy boundaries. God requires us to forgive and to love, but not to be continually affected by toxic and unhealthy behavior.

If we pray all these things, does this guarantee we will be reconciled to this person and have a wonderful relationship in the future? No, it does not. However, we must have faith that God is doing something. That he is strengthening our faith, helping us to rely more on Him, teaching us not to waiver in our convictions, or whatever it may be. Our pain and our prayers are not in vain, or as Joseph said to his brothers, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” Genesis 50: 20.

And if you don’t see any changes for days, months, or even years, does this mean God has stopped working? No. My son’s favorite song on the radio right now is “Waymaker”, sung by Michael W. Smith and the lyrics remind me of this very truth:

“Even when I can’t see it you’re working.

Even when I can’t feel it you’re working.

You never stop, never stop working…

You never stop, never stop working.”