GETTING ALONG Dr. Joseph Stowell
“First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
Matthew 5:24 NASB
Getting along with God and getting along with people are unconditionally linked. In fact, how I relate to and treat other people has a direct impact on and is a clear reflection of my relationship with God. Which is not good news for most of us. We’d much rather write off everybody who has hurt us and excuse away all the times we have hurt others and go blissfully on our way, happy in Jesus. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. If we are not doing well with people, we are not doing well with God.
For instance, the proof of my love for God is that I treat my neighbor well (Matthew 22:34-40). I can’t hate my brother and love God (1 John 4:20-21). To be forgiven by God, I must forgive (Mark 11:25). Before I can worship God, I must lay down my gift and make wrongs right (Matthew 5:23-24). If I mistreat my wife, my prayers are hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
God is passionately committed to the well-being of others. He died to prove the point. When we hurt and abuse what He loves, it is clear that we have not only offended them, but Him. He died to forgive even the worst of sinners. When we refuse to forgive, we violate the character of God and refuse to give others the gift that God has so graciously given to us. Don’t miss the story Christ told about forgiven people who refuse to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35).
During the time da Vinci was painting The Last Supper, he reportedly lashed out in anger at a friend. Returning to his work, he attempted to brush some delicate lines on the face of Jesus. But, unable to continue he left his tools to look for the man and ask his forgiveness. Only after he apologized could he go back and complete the face of Christ.
The story makes a point. Our relationship with others conditions our fellowship with God. Or is it God who conditions our fellowship with others? It’s both!