Making Amends

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mathew 5: 23-24.)               

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                No one can have a close relationship with God in a vacuum; everyone lives within a social structure, made up of family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and complete strangers.  Our relationships with others are a reflection of our relationship with God; if we sin against someone, we also sin against God; if we have cheated anyone, we have also cheated God.  When we lie, slander, or feel hatred toward another person, we have lied, slandered, and hated the One True and Living God.  In the first century many Jewish families journeyed long distances to sacrifice animals to atone for their sins and to be restored to a right relationship with God.  Jesus taught that prior to offering a sacrifice to God for restoration and forgiveness, everyone had to make right, the harms they had committed against others.  This principal, known as ‘making amends’ is still very much in effect today. 

                In June of 2005 I landed in a rehabilitation center in Anaheim California.  Although not yet saved, I began working a 12 step program.  The 12 steps have been shunned by many churches that see them as pagan.  Although they are pagan, and do not acknowledge Jesus Christ, the 12 steps and the principals were taken almost completely from the bible.  Those who formed the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous were Christians, strongly influenced by Jesus; the literature used by those early recovering alcoholics was the bible (specifically the book of James, the sermon on the mount, and 1 Corinthians 13.)  Personally, after about a year and ½ in to my new found sobriety, I received the Lord and began to read the bible.  I continued to work the steps as well.  I came across this scripture, where Jesus commanded his followers to apologize and make restitution for the wrongs they had committed.  I immediately recognized that Jesus’ command had been the basis for the eighth and the ninth steps.  The eighth step reads, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to amends to them all,” and the ninth step reads, Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  From 2005 until today, I have continued to make amends to others I have harmed.  I have made restitution, paid off debts, and asked for forgiveness from many who were affected by my sins.  With every debt paid and every apology given, I have felt my Spirit drawing ever closer to my teacher, my Lord, and my God.

                Today, if you are struggling to get closer to God, you might consider examining your past mistakes and previous sins against others; if you have stolen from anyone (and have the capacity to repay what you took) go to them and make restitution.  If you have lied, and your lies have caused hardships for others, return and speak the truth.  If you mistreated someone and they are harboring resentment, humble yourself and ask them for forgiveness.  Making amends is a very real and essential part of what it means to be a Christian; often the pathway toward a more Godly future, leads through the sins of our past; what we do with those sins once we have faced them, will determine whether we go deeper with God, or remain distant from Him.  The choice is ours to make.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and lift You up; You are worthy to be praised.  Father, if we have harmed anyone in our past and have not gone back to make restitution, we ask that You would make us aware of our wrongs.  Give us strength and humility, that we might ask for forgiveness, and be reconciled to those who resent us.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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