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Picking Up the Pieces

argumentEditor’s note: Though excerpted from a series geared to men dealing with sexual sin, these godly principles from Biblical Foundations For Freedoms apply to us all.

Picking up the mess

We have made many mistakes.

Now where do we start picking up the pieces?

Is there any hope for our broken relationships?

Finding Forgiveness

When we think about our lives, ‘picking up the pieces’ might seem very appropriate, but God prefers different terms like healing, restoration and saving. Relationships are not things that can just be reassembled as if nothing ever happened. Offenses and hurts have been made. There are costs, and the payment heavy. Many times man tries to straighten out everything on his own. He forgets this is impossible because every time we offend man, we also offend God.

God, however, not only is an offended person but the volunteer mediator. He is offended because as His creatures we have not lived by His rules and have further messed things up. As a mediator the Lord plays the central role during restoration. Interestingly, He also actually provides the means for the restoration of relationships. Things will never be the way they were, but by God’s grace He can bring some good from it.

You might not be able to marry your divorced spouse. You might never again be able to be close to your children because of past wrongs. But God has a special way of working in and through brokenness. This is God’s specialty. We can see this in the scriptures as well as in the lives of His people who have found this restoration. So let us look beyond just collecting the broken pieces and look to genuine relationships.

The process of reconciliation itself can be difficult.

We are humbled.
We need to face our wrongs.
Others find out how evil we are.

We usually aren’t able to see the slow degradation that takes place in our lives when we do not properly confess our sins. Our life’s progress slows down. Our relationships will get worse and worse until our whole life comes crumbling down.

Every person that we have not properly forgiven is like a little pebble in our running shoe. They almost insure defeat in the long race. We usually handle such problems by simply hoping that it will go away. Maybe a calloused skin will quickly develop so that we will not feel it anymore! But this is a temporary solution at best. What we should do is humble ourselves on the side of the road, when all the other runners are zipping by, and get that pebble out.

Positively however, forgiveness leads to freedom and restoration. There are many levels of forgiveness, and like a big family, they are all related. But in this article, we will deal mainly with one aspect of forgiveness:

Gaining God’s forgiveness

When we hear of God forgiving our sin, this is describing how a person becomes a Christian or how his relationship with God is restored.

By Christ’s death on the cross, Jesus took away the believers’ penalty of sin that God held against them. When we repent from our sins and believe in Jesus, we become God’s children and are accepted as His family members forever. Our faith brings us into His family. Our faith is like our membership card. All of our sins that kept us from Him are thoroughly dealt with. There will even be many sins that we don’t know of that are well cared for. The worst sins in the world are taken away. Psalm 103:12-13 says,

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on [his] children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Any little sin would be enough to suffer under God’s wrath forever. However, through Christ we have complete peace with God.

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2, NASB).

This is the love of God. God has taken all the necessary steps to secure forgiveness for us. We sometimes think that God had to forgive us or that forgiveness was natural. Quite the contrary, grace is extraordinary. Grace is God’s extra effort to make peace with us rebellious creatures. We wanted nothing to do with Him. We had our own religion beliefs, political parties, educational systems and even our own systems of moralities. In spite of this, God brought life to us. This is His love. Look carefully at John 8:32 if you would like to see how Jesus described this process.

Now let’s focus on the second side of our reconciliation with God. The first is the establishing of a relationship as discussed above. This is quite different than the renewing of the relationship.

Renewing a relationship

We sometimes confuse a relationship with a good relationship. We might have a number of family relationships – aunts, brothers, father, children, etc., but this does not mean we have a good relationship with them. The same is true with God. Christians have a relationship with God, but we need to work at keeping it functioning well.

Reconciliation with God has two aspects and unless we clearly understand them, we will be very confused. If we do not properly care for our relationship with God, then we are going to face many difficulties in life, some of them painful. Basically, when we do not take our relationship with God seriously, then we are living as if there is none. Legally, there is. But practically there isn’t. If we haven’t talked to our father for three years because of the way we ended our last conversation, we cannot boast much of a relationship.

This is why a Christian can sin and yet still be a Christian. He could drift into the clutches of pornography, for example. However, we need to be honest with ourselves. If a person’s heart is really set on evil things and not repentant, he ought not think he is one of God’s children at all. Only with the absence of faith is there the absence of love for God’s way. God’s children can fall back into sin. However, if they do, they will always hate their sin and want to come back to God. Many just don’t know how to come back. This is what we want to now address.

Jonah was rebelling against God. He was not sinning against certain sexual standards, but it was disobedience just the same. He was running away from God. You can read the whole story in the fascinating Bible book of Jonah. But God was quick. He followed Jonah onto his runaway boat. He catches His errant children just as a faithful father will discipline His children. And it can really hurt.

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:7-9, NASB).

God caught Jonah running away on a boat going in the opposite direction from where He should have been going. He caused such a storm to arise that finally Jonah confessed that the whole boat was going to be destroyed if he himself wasn’t thrown overboard. Jonah knew he was guilty and was reluctantly thrown overboard. A great big fished swallowed up Jonah until he humbled himself, was willing to do what God wanted and prayed to God for forgiveness and help. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice. (Jonah 2:1-2)

We must renew our relationship with the Lord now. The longer we put it off, the more difficult it is for us and others. We need to humble ourselves to our knees and cry out for mercy and forgiveness. He is there to hear our voice no matter how evil our acts were.

Remember that even in the midst of the consequence for sin, God is there, and you can talk intimately with Him.

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