14. For The Greater Good

24 12 2010

(I have been blogging on the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. This is the last chapter; these are my thoughts on chapter 14).

Hey, how is this for an opener: “It is more important to help a stumbling brother than to prove yourself correct” (164). Personally, I would way rather have people tell me, “You’re right,” then go about quietly, doing God’s will. I am half joking; but only half. The drive to have one’s cause validated is a pretty strong drive.

When something goes sideways, I always want to explain myself; but what if, for the greater good, I just have to keep my mouth shut? What if I just have to listen, and for the sake of peace, ask for forgiveness (sincerely) instead of defending my actions? The author says that Jesus exhorts us to reconcile, even if the offense is not our fault (167):

“No matter what caused it, this offended person’s understanding is darkened, and he has based his judgment on assumptions, hearsay, and appearances, deceiving himself even though he believes he has discerned our true motives. How can we have an accurate judgment without accurate information? We must be sensitive to the fact that he believes with his whole heart that he has been wronged. For whatever reason he feels this way, we must be willing to humble ourselves and apologize” 167).

Is anyone out there arguing with this, because my first response is, “But…” This is SUCH A HARD ASK, yet the Bible calls us to “pursue the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19). Jesus says, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him…” (Matthew 5:25). And James says that Jesus asks us “willingly to yield” (3:17).

The author writes, “I have learned to listen and keep my mouth shut until they have said what they need to say. If I don’t agree, I let them know I respect what they have said and will search my attitude and intentions. Then I tell them I am sorry I have hurt them. Other times they are accurate in their assessment of me. I admit, ‘You are right. I ask your forgiveness.'” (168).

The thing is, “often we judge ourselves by our intentions and everyone else by their actions” (166). That statement really caught me. I know what is going on in my head and heart, and I want everyone to judge me by that. Yet I turn around and do what others do to me; I judge them by their response to me instead of what might be going on in their head and heart. It’s a double standard.

Secondly, I know what is going on in my own heart; I know that my intentions are good but can’t I misstep in my actions and can’t those missteps be misinterpreted, “communicating something totally different” (167)? I can be read wrong because I present wrong.

Third, “sometimes our true motives are cleverly hidden even from us. We want to believe they are pure. But as we filter them through the Word of God we see them differently” (167). Isn’t this so true?  It is so easy to think I am clean, but words are said and when I go back to replay them, can’t there be an earlier frustration that added weight to them? Can’t my words be waiting in the wings, looking for an opportunity to speak “truth” but truth with an ulterior motive? Yes, I have done that: right words, wrong heart.

There is always room to apologize: “we are to maintain an attitude of pursuing peace through humility at the expense of our pride” (167).

Just as Christ reconciled the world to Himself (not waiting for us to ask Him to), He has asked us to be His ambassadors (messengers) and has given us the “word of reconciliation”  (2 Corinthians 5:18). What is that word? Think about those offenses, or those loose ends, in  your life. I believe, very practically, that God can give us the right word of reconciliation for those situations. Yes, people may not respond to that word, but it will still be the one that is extending or making peace from our side.

Isn’t this one of the most difficult asks, difficult tasks, in Scripture? To put aside our explanations, our “side of the story” and our statements that begin with “But…” and extend peace, in absolute sincerity and humility, without any expectations and only the desire to forgive and be forgiven and to be reconciled?

I think it is. If Jesus asks this of us, and He does, are we willing to do this for the greater good?

— Teresa Klassen

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