Repentance bears “good fruit.”
True repentance will bear fruit. Conflict frequently makes us want to rush in and defend ourselves, to justify our behavior and position. But James gives us different advice:
- “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
So much more can be accomplished with a calm, unruffled approach, as the Scriptures indicate.
- Pray―Ask the Lord for the wisdom to guard your tongue. Ask Him to make you a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.
- See through God’s eyes―God has a divine perspective on everything He does in a believer’s life. He’s working in all things for our long-term, ultimate benefit (Romans 8:28). And He’s thrifty; He won’t waste difficulties, preferring instead to use them to teach us His ways. We show the world our transformed lives when we choose to respond appropriately.
- Forgive―Even when someone has hurt us or caused us humiliation and pain God requires that we forgive, just as He has so graciously forgiven us. Jesus died so we could be forgiven of all our sins—past, present, and future. And as forgiven sinners, we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. Forgiving others benefits both them and ourselves. When we forgive we experience freedom from bitterness, hardness of heart, resentment, broken relationships, ill health, and preoccupation with revenge. In contrast, we’re kept in bondage when we refuse to forgive. It isn’t our prerogative to defiantly disobey a direct command from God, and we’re never to choose attitudes and behaviors that put ourselves above Him.
- Respond―At the other end of the spectrum, when we’ve wronged others we’re to apologize and ask them to forgive us. When someone lets us know that we’ve offended them, whether or not we were aware of the situation, we owe it both to them and to God to be quick to apologize and even to thank them for the willingness to share their feelings with us, assuring them that we’ll carefully consider their comments. Even if we disagree with their assessment of a situation, there’s no harm in saying we’ll consider their argument or viewpoint. Nor can apologizing hurt the relationship. Giving up our “right to be right” is something many of us with strong personalities find particularly difficult; this stance requires dying to self, and it takes work to master this “art.” If we’re willing to relinquish our perceived “rights,” we might be surprised at the results. For one thing, our pride won’t have an opportunity to get the best of us. Pride can be so insidious, in fact it’s one of Satan’s best weapons, because it entices us to hold grudges against God, not just others. If we break off our relationship with the Lord, we have no other mediator or recourse. We’re in continuous need of Christ’s mediation for us through His Spirit; without it Satan will quickly and efficiently snatch us away.
- “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5–6)
Excerpt taken from my soon to be released book, “A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE.” Will be sold on Amazon.com and at numerous other on-line book stores.