Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
Few things are as wonderful as a completely clean and pure conscience. It takes effort, but it is a gift from God, literally. God refers to a clear conscience as righteousness, and Jesus gave His life so that we could have it.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Righteousness, or right standing with God, is the greatest evidence of God’s grace. Not only has He offered all of us forgiveness, He has offered us the ability to live a righteous life free from guilt and shame. Nothing can compare to the peace that comes when we are in right standing with God. In order to receive this gift, however, there is something we need to do.
Anyone that longs for the immeasurable peace that flows from being “right” with God must understand that it is only available to those that are willing to humble themselves before God and “man”. It is essential that we come before God with a sincere heart to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. There is no substitute for this part of our relationship with Him. However, it is vital that we never misinterpret the forgiveness and grace of God as an excuse to not make things right with the people in our lives.
We represent God to the world, and our mission is to help restore people back to our loving Father by the way we live and treat others (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 above). Therefore, it is essential that we seek to make things right not only with God, but with the people in our lives as well. Our willingness to humble ourselves and reconcile with people is a visible representation to this world of God’s love.
If I say something dishonest or deceitful to my friend, it is important that I confess this to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. I do this because I love Jesus, and I value our relationship. However, the process of reconciliation is unfinished. Just because I talked to God doesn’t mean that restoration is complete. I must also listen to God and let Him guide my heart, for He will always lead me to reconcile with people and right my wrongs. The phrase, “God and I are good” can be a religious cop-out that we use when we are trying to justify not reconciling with people. What good is my “God confession” if the wrong committed still exists unexposed? Am I in right standing with my Father if I refuse to seek reconciliation like He asks me to?
Jesus gives us a powerful and sobering example in Matthew 5:23-24.
If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Jesus is amazing. He is so clear with His words. The offering God desires is not monetary, He wants our hearts. When we avoid reconciliation, our own unsettled hearts testify against our actions. When we refuse to humble ourselves and make things right with someone (regardless of who was at fault), we submit ourselves to a mental and emotional manhunt. Our conscience pursues us relentlessly. We either become spiritual refugees running from the freedom of Christ right into the chains of fear and guilt, or worse, we learn to cope with our decision by shutting out the voice of God and hardening our hearts. Both lead to misery, and both oppose God’s will for us.
Here’s the point: We are called to be ambassadors for Christ; His representatives to the world. The message He wants us to bring to the world is Reconciliation, therefore we must live completely reconciled lives in every way. There is no room for unforgiveness, guilt, shame, bitterness, etc. These things are foolish and keep us from the beautiful life of peace-filled fulfillment that Jesus offers us.
The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear. (Luke 12:2-5).
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 1 John 1:5-6
Are you hiding anything from God? Are you hiding things from your family and friends? Ask God to search your heart, and write out your answers. There is nothing worth hiding. It will cost you your life. Bringing these things into the light by confessing them to God and to the people involved will bring you freedom and life.
Jesus, I want to be in right standing with you. I desire to live a righteous life. Help me find the courage to live in the light. Search my heart and reveal to me anything that I am hiding. Help me live out this message of reconciliation that you have entrusted me with. I want to follow you no matter the cost. My heart is yours. Amen.