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Basic Christian life skills 5: Bringing reconciliation


Reading: Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Reading: Romans 12:9-21

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Text of Sermon

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing.

  • Forgiveness only takes one person – the victim.
  • Reconciliation takes two persons – the victim and the perpetrator.

Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation, but only if both parties are willing to do what is necessary for reconciliation. The victim must be willing to forgive. The perpetrator must demonstrate understanding of the hurt that was suffered by the victim and must show remorse. Reconciliation takes time and can only be concluded if there is trust from the victim that the hurt will not be repeated. Sometimes restitution is

Discussion questions:
  1. Which insights into the way reconciliation works were new to you?
  2. What would you say to a person who has forgiven someone and has not been able to reconcile with the other party, due to unwillingness from that person to mend relationships between them?
  3. The Matthew 5 passage views anger with the same seriousness as murder. Why would Jesus be that serious about anger?
  4. Matthew 5:23-24 underlines the importance of reconciliation for God. What, would you think, would be the impact on worship if we are not serious about living in peace with our neighbours?
  5. Romans 12:9 states that love must be sincere (‘unhypocritical’ would be a good direct translation of the Greek). What damage have you seen done by insincere love (not necessarily done by Christians)?
  6. Which of the commands issued in our passage in Romans are the most difficult to do, and why?