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Reconciling With Those You've Hurt Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 8, 2022 1:00 am

Reconciling With Those You've Hurt Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 8, 2022 1:00 am

Sin divides, but grace always unites. Why should we seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt? In this message, we find reasons why reconciliation should be our highest priority and why it often seems impossible. As we explore these biblical principles, we’ll find wisdom for our messy situations. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Ever hurt someone you care about? Handling the ongoing pain we cause when we sin is a daunting but necessary task. Today, how to seek forgiveness from those we've hurt, and then watch as God brings new hope out of our bad situations.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, our sins inevitably leave collateral damage, even when they're forgiven. And you know, Dave, the truth is that we need to clear our consciences, not only before God, but also before others. That's why this ministry and this teaching is so incredibly important, is my desire is that people's consciences be cleared. I want to ask you a question.

Do you understand how teeth are made in such a way that they can endure so long that they can constantly take the stress of eating? Well, I'm holding in my hands a book entitled Have You Considered? Three hundred and sixty-five devotionals based on God's creation, helping us to understand the uniqueness of our creator, God. Wonderful gift for your children, your grandchildren, and for yourself. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. What a wonderful opportunity we have to listen to God's word, even as it is also confirmed by the God who created all things. Let me begin today with a question. Why should we bother trying to connect with other people? Why should we bother trying to be reconciled with people whom we have hurt or people who have hurt us? Isn't it enough to have a wonderful relationship with God? Why should we bother with the messy relationships that sometimes develop with people who are so, so imperfect?

Why bother? Let me begin today by giving you three reasons why we should be reconciled to the people of God and why reconciliation should be our highest priority. First of all, because we belong to a reconciling God. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, the Scripture says. And because God is interested in reconciliation, we should be interested in reconciliation. It is sin that divides and it is grace that always unites. And the closer we are to God, the closer we want to become to the people of God. In fact, whenever there's a great work of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of an individual or a church, one of the sure proofs of that work is a desire to get close to others, to lay down longstanding bitterness, and to be reconciled and to be brought together under the foot of the cross.

There's a second reason. When we're talking about believers, we're speaking about those who are members of the same family. Jesus said to Mary, I ascend to my Father and to your Father and to your God and my God. That means that we're all brothers and sisters. It's one thing to have a dispute, you know, with people who are outside the family that can't be reconciled, but how serious it is to have unresolved disputes within the family. God as our Father, brothers and sisters, but we can't put it away and be reconciled. There's a third reason, and that is to clear our own conscience.

The Apostle Paul says in Acts chapter 24, verse 16, I strive to keep my conscience clear before God and before man. And you and I should be able to look every person in the world in the eye, and we should be able to say that we've done whatever we could to be reconciled. Now, sometimes reconciliation is impossible, and I'm going to give you some reasons why reconciliation isn't possible, and then we're going to be answering a whole host of questions about this business of forgiveness and reconciliation.

As you know, this is a series of messages titled After You've Blown It Reconnecting with God and Others, and we've had four messages on the topic of reconnecting with God and what that means. And now we're going to have two messages on reconnecting with others. And you'll notice that I have seven principles that we're going to be getting to of reconciliation and connecting, but I want to tell you today we're not going to get through all of them. As I was working through this message, it dawned on me that this is really two messages because we want to go slowly. I'm going to be giving many different examples of practical wisdom, hopefully, on this business of forgiveness and reconciliation. But as a result of that, I hope that your own life is changed. And so these are very sensitive issues that we're going to be dealing with. And because they are so sensitive, and for some of you, reconciliation is going to cost you so much, we can't be in a hurry. So this message is going to go until a reasonable time, and then we're going to stop, and then we're going to pick it up next time. I was speaking at a graduation service yesterday, and as a gift, they gave me a clock.

And I thought to myself, maybe there's a message here that I'm supposed to get. And so you'll notice that I don't have my clock, but I do have my wristwatch up here, and it's my responsibility to speak, it's your responsibility to listen, and as I've told you, I hope to God we end at the same time. Why is it that reconciliation sometimes isn't possible? Let me give you some reasons. Number one, because we deny our sin. We deny it. Eighty percent of all abusers, when confronted with the abuse that they did to their children or to others, deny it. Sometimes it may be because of repressed memories. Sometimes the accusation may be false because possibly the child has a bad memory or a warped memory or even an untrue one.

Those get into some very complicated matters. But the simple fact is that there are people who have been abusers, who have been evil, who when confronted with the evil, deny it and take that denial to their grave. In a case like that, all that you can do, really, is to simply say, I'm convinced that you did this and I leave this with you and with God. But there can be no reconciliation unless there is an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. That's one reason.

Let me give you a second reason why reconciliation sometimes is not possible, and that is that not only do we deny our sin, but oftentimes we minimize it. True story. I'm at an airport and sitting there in the lounge at a gate waiting and I like to strike up conversations with people and I begin to talk to this woman who tells me her story, a Christian woman, married for 30 years to a childhood sweetheart. She thought that they had a model family. In fact, she said that we were a focus on the family kind of family.

Because her husband was interested in ministry, she actually worked to put him through both Bible school and seminary and he pastored several small churches. Turns out that even though they had four children and seemed to be getting along quite well, turns out he was not only a womanizer, but actually had also been guilty as a pedophile. Suddenly, because the sock comes unraveled, so to speak, she confronts him. When he can no longer deny it, he finally admits to it and says, okay, so I did this. Now you, as a good Christian wife, have to forgive me and furthermore, not only do you have to forgive me, but if I do it again, you have to forgive me again 70 times seven, said Jesus, and you can never bring up my past once it is forgiven. This woman told me that she was naive enough to believe that the relationship might work, so she forgave him. Until it happened again and again, she told me she had no idea of how deep these roots of sin actually were.

And then he added these words, and this is very important. He said, not only do you have to forgive me, but he said, if you do not forgive me each time and receive me back, I fear for your soul before God. Now hang on to that phrase because that is characteristic of abusers.

Abusers will always say it is really your fault. You're the one who has to fear God, not me. And when they become really evil, you've heard me say this before, but it is so crucial here understanding the nature of evil. The truly evil person does not see the evil that is within him.

He sees the evil that is within him as residing in others, and he honestly does not see the evil that is within his own heart. And so he says, I fear for your soul if you don't forgive and reconcile. But we're going to be talking about issues such as that in this message and in the next message to follow, but I need to stop here and say that this message is not just for those of you who have been wronged, because some of you are saying, you know, I can identify with that.

Some of you women, God bless you, you may be saying that's something like my husband was. But I want to also identify those of you who are the abusers, those of you who are the manipulators, those of you who are doing the wrong, those of you who are pushing upon other people your sinful agenda without your repentance. I'm speaking to you too. Do you see why this is a hard message?

And it's not going to get any easier as it goes on. Let me give you another reason why. Oh, by the way, regarding this man, when his pastor said he needs therapy, his response was, not me, that's for people who are sick.

All right. A third reason why sometimes reconciliation isn't possible is because the parties cannot agree on the facts. Here's a Christian man who does printing, and so he's asked by another Christian to do this printing, and they agree on a certain price, but there's a cost overrun because of some specialties that weren't taken into account, and so one man expects the other to pay, and the other says, I didn't agree to pay that price, I agreed to pay this price, and on and on it goes, and they refuse to be able to see what happened in the life of the other person. They refuse to stand in the other person's shoes and see it from his viewpoint, and when you hear their stories independently, you're absolutely convinced that each person is absolutely right.

And I've heard stories where I say, wow, you hear both sides, and you begin to wonder. You know that in cases like that, the only way reconciliation can really be brought about is with a mediator, somebody who can listen to both sides of the story and then make a judgment, because what happens is these people are oftentimes so deeply entrenched in their own viewpoint, and oftentimes feelings of hostility and betrayal are so deep that they can't even see the facts anymore, and that's why reconciliation is so important, and reconcilers are so important to the body of Jesus Christ. There's another reason, and that is, it is sometimes said that there are some crimes that are so serious that they should never be forgiven, nor should reconciliation ever be attempted.

In Dostoevsky's book, Brothers Karmazov, there's a story of a little boy who was throwing some stones at some dogs, and the owner, in order to teach the villagers a lesson, forced the boy's mother to watch as he turned his big dogs on the little boy, and they tore him to shreds. Can that woman ever even think of forgiveness and reconciliation? Possibly forgiveness, hopefully forgiveness, as we shall see later, but reconciliation, I doubt it. Now what I'd like to do is to begin today giving you these seven principles, and there's no one passage in all the scripture where you find all seven together.

That would be very nice. The main passage has to do in the book of Colossians. It talks about forgiving one another and so forth, but what I've done is, in giving you these seven principles, some of which we shall cover today and the others that we shall continue on in the next message in this series, is to simply give various passages, and then, as I mentioned, I shall give some very specific concrete examples to help you to understand how I think these principles are to be applied, because the Bible doesn't cover every specific. It gives us the principle, and then wisdom must come along, and I trust under God that what I'm saying to you is wise. I ran this message past Pastor Worley.

I actually let him read some things I've written because I wanted his input. I want to be a wise man when it comes to these difficult issues, and so what we're going to do is to look at the scriptures, look at the principles, and then ask this question, what do you have to do, what do I have to do to be fully right before God and man? What a question, and how desperately we need the answer. Principle number one. We must confess our failures to those we have wronged. For that, you can turn to Matthew chapter 18. Matthew chapter 18, the very famous passage that Jesus gives us on the topic of forgiveness. Matthew chapter 18 verse 15 says, if your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you.

If he listens, you've won your brother over, but if you will not listen, then you get other people involved. In this instance, Jesus is talking about the offended person going to the person who has done the offending, and he's saying reconciliation has to happen, but of course Jesus would also teach that reconciliation must come the other way. If you know that you have offended someone, if you know that there is someone who is out of sorts with you, it is your responsibility to go and to seek, to seek reconciliation, because God is interested in reconciliation. In fact, in this context, Jesus said, where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst. We sometimes use that passage in prayer meeting. We say, well, you know, we only have a prayer meeting with two or three, but thank God that where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is there. Now listen, Jesus is talking about the context of reconciliation where two or three are gathered together.

There he said, I am there to effect and to bring about the reconciliation. Now let's suppose that there is an offense between you and someone else, and let us suppose that their responsibility in the offense is 80%, whereas yours is only at the very most 20%. That's the way it usually comes out when you do counseling.

Yeah, well, you know, maybe, but all right, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. What you and I must do if we think that our offense is 20% and somebody else's is 80%, we cannot trivialize our 20%. We must consider when we're asking for forgiveness, we must consider our 20% as really the 100%. We're responsible for our part in the offense. And therefore we go to people with humility and we ask them for forgiveness. And we don't know, they're hoping then that they will confess their 80%. We know that they might because oftentimes the bridge is set up through our own asking for forgiveness. It is then a bridge that they can cross over as well, but we leave them in the presence of God.

What we are interested in is our fault and our responsibility, and we leave them to God. And when we go, we don't say now, if I've done something wrong, what do you mean if? If you know that you've done something wrong, then don't say if, if is an attempt to water things down and say, well, you know, maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I didn't. But if I did listen, if you know it and God knows it and the other person knows it, then don't go with your ifs. You say to them because I have wronged you, I seek your forgiveness. Now here it gets tricky. What the other person might say is, well, it wasn't really that big a deal. Don't you dare be satisfied with that and I'll tell you why.

What they want to do is to keep the teeter totter balanced. You see, what they want to say is, you know, if I actually forgive this person, if I say, I forgive you, then the weight and the responsibility is now with me and the teeter totter is no longer in balance, but all the weight now comes on my side and now suddenly I become responsible for my responses and I would much prefer if I could just continue to fester this hatred and this dislike for this person. And if I forgive him, God knows what's going to happen.

It's all going to fall on me. So I prefer to say, well, it wasn't that big a deal. Then what you say with a smile on your face, of course, all of this is happening with smiles. You say, you know, I just find it so wonderful if you could find it in your heart to forgive me.

And I'd love to hear you say those words. I forgive you for X, Y, and Z. Now, if the person isn't ready and says, I can't forgive, then you simply say that when you're ready, you come and tell me. But reconciliation with you is a very, very high priority within the church. And the more powerful the Holy Spirit of God works, the more powerful people overcome all kinds of barriers and bitternesses and longstanding family feuds and arguments and who was right and who said what. And it's all laid down because Jesus forgave us and therefore we are quick to forgive. Forgiving one another even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you. We seek reconciliation through forgiveness. That's the first principle. Second principle is that our confession must be as broad as the offense.

It must be as broad as the offense. Look at what it says again. I'm reading again, chapter 18, verse 15 of Matthew. If your brother sins against you, go show him his fault just between the two of you. At this point, there's no use bringing others in.

If it is a personal feud and a personal offense, then what happens is you go to the people who are involved. And at that point, it doesn't have to go beyond that. Later on, some member of the church may get involved, as Jesus said, if there cannot be reconciliation.

But you don't begin at that point. You go to the person whom you've wronged and you ask their forgiveness and you receive their forgiveness. I know that this message is very difficult for some of you to receive because going to those whom we have wronged is a very difficult experience. And I always encourage people to talk to their pastor or someone whom they trust to know how reconciliation can best be approached.

But, you know, we're so thankful that God has forgiven us thanks to the coming of Jesus and we celebrate, of course, his birth. But I'm also holding in my hands now a book that actually is for the new year, 365 different readings. I opened it up arbitrarily and I want to ask you a question. Do you know how bees keep cool in a very hot summer? You know, this is a book really on science, but it's very readable and it has color photographs.

It illustrates God's creation. Great gift for your children, your grandchildren and for yourself. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to That's

Of course, RTW offers all one word. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for your generosity. It is indeed a time of giving.

We're thankful that God gave and we also have the privilege of giving, being like him. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. We all look forward to getting together with friends and relatives, but many dread these times because it means facing people who've hurt us or people we've hurt. Next time, putting damaged relationships back on track. We'll return to Matthew 18 and hear more about reconciling with those you've hurt with some great advice on how to ask for forgiveness. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-08 03:05:57 / 2022-12-08 03:14:25 / 8

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