Devotional Thought of the Day:
Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? 13 I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off. 14 That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost. Mt.18:12-14 CEV
16 Don’t be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone’s life. 17 Don’t hold grudges. On the other hand, it’s wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. Lev. 19:16-17 CEV
The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God’s blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren.
For most of us, the statement about leaving the 99 is comforting, for most of us know we wander off too frequently.
Put a different face on the 99, and we might have a different reaction.
If it is a person that antagonizes us, we might say good riddance, and let them go.
It is someone who has hurt us, we may pretend we do not notice.
If they are a politician or someone who expresses themselves politically is a way we oppose, we might even pack their bags and give them a map with the fastest way out of town, and try to inflame them enough that they burn bridges behind them.
We should not take those attitudes, but they seem natural to us, and many would cheer us on if we allowed them to wander off. After all, we didn’t push them away or force them out. We just let them go, off to get what they deserve. (not to mention what we deserve.)
The answer to this sin is not found in forcing our will to do what we don’t want to do. We might be able to subject our will once or twice, and yet, somewhere down deep, resentment will only grow, not just toward the one who offended us, but towards God and those who would encourage reconciliation.
So how do we do the impossible, how do we pray that Jesus is able to rescue this one stray? Or even more impossible, how do we come to desire that we assist in some small way?
I don’t think it is by focusing on them, or the pain they have caused.
I think it can only be by looking to Jesus, to seeing Him at work in our own lives, bringing about the healing that we need, forgiving the sin we’ve committed, removing the guilt and shame, and indeed the fear of death that comes from knowing we will be judged. To experience the love of God that makes our life new, and free from the power of sin. In awe of that, with the joy that only knowing we have passed from death to life can bring, is reconciliation with others possible.
For free, and full of joy, we see them out of the corner of our eye, and in awe of Christ’s work, we invite them to share in it. We then find great joy walking with Jesus after the one, because as they share the in the wonder of Christ’s healing them, we see again His healing us, it is made more complete.
Another part of us is healed, when they are cleansed and healed by Christ.
Then the joy of seeing Christ at work becomes greater, as it is shared.
Heavenly Father, help us to see and wonder about the incredible things Christ is doing in our lives. Help us to know He is with us, and as we gaze upon the cross, help us to rejoice as the Spirit brings healing to all our relationships. AMEN@
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).