Reflection on Relationship with Others
Text: Matthew 6 : 1 - 18
God values relationships! He values our relationship with Him. He also values our relationship with each other! Hence the emphasis placed on the matter of forgiving others of their trespasses against us.
Human relationships are unfortunately unstable things. It is not easy to be able to speak of good relationships with one another. More often than not relationships are strained, and in some circumstances so stretched they are almost at the bursting point.
Let us recall what Jesus taught earlier. Some of the things He taught could be studied under the subject of “human relationships”.
1. The Beatitudes Matthew 5:1-12
Read the Beatitudes again, and see how many of them are human relationship-related truths! Consider these three.
“Blessed are the meek…”
“Blessed are the merciful…”
“Blessed are the peacemakers…”
These are relationship-related aphorisms! The other Beatitudes, though they appear to be directly related to our relationship with God, nevertheless have a human-related application.
2. Salt of the earth and light of the world Matthew 5:13-16
This challenge is distinctly human relationship-related! All disciples are urged to be sure that they are to do good to others, so that people can see God as our Father in Heaven indeed.
3. Settling Differences with each other Matthew 5:21-26
Jesus taught His disciples to value relationships in this passage. They are not to speak derisively of anybody! If there are bad or strained relationships, every effort must be made to bring about reconciliation!
4. Blessing the enemy Matthew 5:38-44
The challenge to love even one’s enemy is obviously human relationship-related teaching. Jesus wanted His disciples to be able to love even the enemy!
5. Being Like the Father Matthew 5:45-48
The deep underlying truth is that Jesus wanted His disciples to display an important fact – that they are truly children of God! If indeed one claims to be a child of God, then one must reflect the Father!
HAVE WE REALLY UNDERSTOOD GOD’S FORGIVENESS?
We tend to take for granted that we comprehend God’s forgiveness! We assume that when we confess our sins, God is bound to forgive us!
Jesus wanted to make sure that His disciples do not take God’s forgiveness for granted! He taught His disciples that they must forgive one another of trespasses. Would that prove difficult? Then that in itself would help them learn about God’s forgiveness better. There must be no presumption on their part that forgiveness is “a given” simply because pardon is sought from sin.
A CONDITION ATTACHED!
What Jesus taught His disciples must have raised some eyebrows! Receiving of God’s forgiveness had a “condition” attached! The one seeking forgiveness from God is expected to forgive others! If the heart cannot forgive others, then the petitioner need not expect forgiveness either! What an astonishing condition!
Few understand and appreciate this emphasis of Jesus! Many focus on teaching the Lord’s prayer and then gloss over this reflection! This should not be! The challenge is obvious! We must pay greater heed to human relationships! We must not allow our hearts to condemn others at any time in self-righteousness. We must learn to forgive others as we have been forgiven of the Father! If we have been forgiven of much, then we must be able to forgive others too!
PRACTICAL WAYS ON HOW WE MAY FORGIVE OTHERS
Let us consider the following practical ways that will help us practise this teaching of Jesus. Let us pray over the following suggestions.
1. Reflect on personal sinfulness rather than on the sins of others
Each time we feel angry about how we have been wronged, let us reflect on how sinful we really are! How many times have we sinned against others? How many times have we sinned against God? How many times have people sinned against us? The proportion of our own sins would grossly outweigh that of sins committed against us.
2. Reflect on how God is willing to forgive us
Let us ponder on the graciousness of God! If He is willing to forgive us of our many sins, then we must also be able to forgive others of the few times they have sinned against us.
3. Reflect on Jesus’ teaching about the condition of our forgiveness from God
If we are still struggling with forgiving others, then let us recall and reflect on the condition that Jesus stipulated and emphasized!
4. Reflect on the Beatitudes
Return to what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes again and again. Pray that there might be a cultivation of a Christ-like spirit. Pray for a heart that is ready to forgive!