“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Mt. 5:16
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Cor. 9:27
“My husband and I don’t like how you’ve been talking to us,” a beautiful young woman told me one evening as we stood on her porch.
My apology was immediate. “I am so sorry!” I exclaimed. “I am so thankful for your honesty. It gives me the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and make the changes I need to,” I gushed.
I am guessing she was taken somewhat aback by how quickly and vehemently I apologized. We don’t exactly live in a world of quick apologies – or so often it seems of apologies at all. But nobody should have been more surprised than myself at my quickly repentant heart and mouth. Not long ago, I would have fiercely defended myself, pointing a judgmental finger, lashing out or at least holding back my love, and pridefully, self-pityingly prancing off to tell others how wrong the people were. God by His Spirit through His Word through Jesus Christ has given me a new heart and day by day, hour by hour, breath by breath, is teaching me how to walk in His most heavenly love.
I told the woman I wanted her and her husband to tell me if they ever felt disrespected by me again and to let me know how I could help them in the meantime now that I had made my apology. I left her front porch with the weight of my wrongdoing heavy on my shoulders – until I repented before God. For sin against others is sin against Him above all else.
The apostle Paul spoke about not being a castaway. In other words, as a preacher, he wanted to make sure he didn’t just talk the talk; he wanted to walk the walk. Why? I believe first because He wanted to be acceptable in God’s sight. Second, because who would give credence to his preaching about Christ if he didn’t walk in God’s love? People would have cast him aside and disregarded the Gospel message he preached. Followers of Christ are responsible for sharing the Gospel and reflecting to the world the light and love of Christ. When we fall short, we need to repent. As imperfect as my walk with the Lord is, I am blessed that when I do fall short as I did with this beautiful young couple, that God has given me the humility to seek the forgiveness of Him and others, and the grace of receiving His mercy and being restored to His love. Even when others don’t see His love in me because I have fallen, may they see His love – and grace – when I repent, am forgiven and restored.
Do you need to repent before God and apologize to anyone?